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In Session: Re-Capturing Gestures from the Debris of the Past: De-Cold Warring Tactics in Visual Archives and Documentaries
4: The Quoted Past: U.S. Army Film Footage in Contemporary Korean Documentaries
Thursday, March 25, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Han Sang Kim
Ajou University, Republic of Korea
This paper traces the trajectory of found footage filmmaking concerning alternative socio-historical methods. Found footage has been in the center of alternative historiographic experiments by filmmaking, as well known by the works of Bruce Conner, Chris Marker, and Harun Farocki. In May 1984, the Okinawa Historical Film Society sent their researchers to the U.S. National Archives to collect the footage of the Battle of Okinawa from the archive’s U.S. Army film collections. With the collected sets of film footage, the directors hired by the society made a series of documentaries that exposed hidden and unrecorded atrocities, by re-editing the footage and adding the voices of Okinawan survivors/witnesses. Recently, South Korean historiography also has seen a similar move in documentary filmmaking. Kim Kyong-man’s An Escalator in World Order (2013) compilated and made collages of propaganda footage pieces that had been originally made by either South Korean government agencies or their U.S. counterparts. The unexpected collisions between incoherent images/captions/sounds generated certain alienation effects to take distance from familiar ways of historicizing South Korea’s past. Pae Hye-won’s documentary, Days of Castaway (2019), parallels the three protagonists based on the Jeju island in three different periods and the U.S. Army’s archival footage of the April Uprising/Massacre continuously interrupts the spatial overlaps between different temporalities. These cases demonstrate certain ways in which the excavator-citer of archival images seeks to build a counter-historiography to the dominant socio-historical narrative by using those images.