Lyrical Nitrate

Experimentations with archival films

As a finale to the Meeting on film archives, the chief curator of the Eye Filmmuseum, Giovanna Fossati, proposes a selection of three films from its collection that explore the aesthetic dimension of the processes of degradation and decomposition of photochemical supports.

This session presents a selection of experimental works from the Eye Filmmuseum collection in Amsterdam. From the poetic ode to silent cinema in the classic found-footage masterpiece Lyrical Nitrate to the contemporary explorations of materiality in Liquidator and Under Saturn (Act 1), this screening delves into the various approaches of archival reuse and explores the visualization of materiality, decomposition, and digital manipulation.

Lyrisch Nitraat (Peter Delpeut, 1991)

Filmmaker, writer and former deputy director of the Dutch Filmmuseum Peter Delpeut draws from the Desmet Collection (1907-1916) to craft a visually stunning tribute to early cinema. This found-footage classic showcases the richness of cinematography, mise en scène, acting, and colour in silent cinema from the Desmet Collection, a UNESCO Memory of the World treasure.

Liquidator (Karel Doing, 2010)

Experimental filmmaker Karel Doing’s study of the non-fiction film Haarlem (1922) unfolds as a fascinating exploration of film’s materiality. Undertaken during the restoration of the original film, Liquidator is an experimental journey into nitrate decomposition within the digital domain.

Under Saturn (Act 1) (Alexandra Navrtil, 2018)

Created during Alexandra Navratil’s Artist in Residency at Eye, this work explores the materiality of early non-fiction films (ca. 1895–1935). Focused on industrial films related to coal or oil, alongside microscopic images of blood-cells and micro-organisms, Navratil employs digital tools to provide a highly original visual and aural perspective on the archival material.

Lyrisch Nitraat, Peter Delpeut, Netherlands, 1991, 35mm, 50'. Liquidator, Karel Doing, Netherlands, 2010, digital, 8'. Under Saturn (Act 1), Alexandra Navratil, Netherlands, 2018, digital, 10'.

DCP screening courtesy of the Eye Filmmuseum.

21 January 2024


The Auditorium
Admission fee

€ 4 / € 3 Concessions
5-session pass: € 15 / € 12 Concessions
Friends of the CCCB and Teaching licence holders (mandatory education): free of charge

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