Haim Bresheeth

Research project: Liminal Memory Zones / Matrix Research Lab
multi-track, video presentations, installation, digitisation

Professor Haim Bresheeth, from the School of Social Sciences, Media and Cultural Studies will present the research programme Liminal Memory Zones that aims to address the liminal zones which are created in regions of conflict, by examining the concept through a combination of media presentations and analytical texts, authored by a group of artists and researchers from a number of conflict zones.

He will also present the Matrix Research Lab in at University of East London which brings together a wide range of researchers, mainly from the Schools of Social Sciences, Media and Cultural Studies (SSMCS), and Architecture and Visual Arts (AVA), and offers unique, advanced facilities and research support to staff and research students, as well as to digital media artists in the region.


Matrix East Research Lab (MERL), a new digital image research, has been set up at UEL, London, over the last couple of years, and completed in May 2007. It is a research centre of new image technologies, bringing together artists, educationalist, technologists, researchers, and various interested communities, pioneering the creative potential of working with digital image technologies. The centre is based in East London – the largest concentration of migrants and refugees in Europe, and a multicultural area where more than 100 languages are spoken, and many cultural traditions thrive. As opposed to the single voice and the single image, projecting the dominance of western culture through such institutions as Hollywood, we intended to produce an environment which is polyphonic and multi-image, reflecting the cultural richness of both East London, and the East from which those migrants have arrived.

The image editing compositing and programming used at MERL allows any number of independent video tracks (up to 36 tracks of HD video) to be edited together and displayed in synchronism within the large MERL studio, on a variety of large LCD screens, displays and projectors, in any configuration imaginable. Sound can be similarly displayed within the studio, allowing the creation of innovative virtual spaces, with/in which visitors can creatively interact. This new conception of the gallery space, as well as shaping a space is also undermining the tyranny of the single image/sound track, allowing and inviting a multiplicity of voices, images and experiences. MERL is now running training sessions for local and national video artists, installation and community artists, and for local migrants groups who wish to shape representations of their cultural communities. Increasing use is made of traditional and modernist dance, music and theatre, creating a unique combination of old and new, East and West, as well as some modernist and postmodern forms of theatre and video art, all making MERL a very special centre for digital image experimentation. To find information on the next training date, or how to join the training, please email the Director,
Prof. Haim Bresheeth.

Liminal Zones
The liminal zones of conflict are also zones of memory, of contested and conflicting narratives, of history through story-telling, and also through the suppression of essential narratives – the narratives of the weak, vanquished and controlled. Through the process of occupation, subjugation
and conquest, the orientalised subject is losing not only their freedoms, but also their narratives; the loss is that of their space of desire – they are forced to learn the narrative, language, discourse and themes of the Imperial powers, to internalize and accept them, by suppressing and displacing their own narratives. Thus the zone of hope, the space of desire, is turning into the zone of subjection, the space of lack, in Lacanian terms. Ironically, in many cases, the space of lack, or the space of the loss, is also a lack of space, a loss of territory. The loss of the narrative is most cases joined by the loss of the country, the loss of the
dream that this country represented, the loss of hope. In the case of Palestine, the country, the heimat, has all but disappeared for its indigenous population, at the same time that it has become another country
for the Israeli newcomers, has become another narrative, a zone of extreme alienation, the unheimlich. Similar processes have taken place in other zones of conflict; Kashmir has turned from the Switzerland of the East to
the most bitterly contested zone, a zone lost by both sides to conflict. The
island of Cyprus, small as it is, has been dissected illogically, leaving zones of emptiness and loss, and in a sense, both communities have lost the identity of the Cypriot, and have adopted the conflicting identities of Greek and Turkish – the external, conflicting zones of history, rather than the zone of commonality. In similar ways, the country that was Cyprus has disappeared into narrative of the past, became a territory of loss. The artists working on this project will come from the conflict zones - Palestine/Israel, Cyprus, Ex-Yugoslavia - and will employ complex video installation in tackling the issues of loss, trauma, memory and reconciliation in their work.

Professor Haim Bresheeth is a filmmaker, photographer and a film studies scholar, at University of East London since early 2002. His books include Introduction to the Holocaust (1993 and 2002). His edited volumes include The Gulf War and the New World Order, (1992) Cinema and Memory: Dangerous Liaisons, Co-edited with Zand, S and Zimmerman, M (Hebrew, 2004) and The Conflict and Contemporary Visual Culture in Palestine & Israel, special double-issue, No. 80/81, Vol. 20, issue 3-4, October 2006, of Third Text on Palestinian and Israeli Art, Literature, Architecture and Cinema. His films include State of Danger (1989, BBC2) – a documentary on the first Palestinian Intifada. He is Director of the new UEL research centre – Matrix East Research Lab – concentrating on the Digital Arts and new media. His latest film work is A Civilised Clash, a 17 minute 24-screen installation, taking on the aggressive thesis of Samuel Huntington in his Clash of Civilizations. Haim Bresheeth has been Deputy Head of department of Audio Visual Studies at WSCAD, Farnham, from 1979 to 1984. Between 1984 and 1976 he was Chair of Film and Video at LCP (now London College of Media) The London Institute. Between 1996 and 2001 he has been Dean of the School of Film, Media and Cultural Studies at the Sapir College, Israel, and Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University and the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School. Since 2002 he has been Chair of Cultural and Media Studies, University of East London, at the School of Social Sciences, Media and Cultural Studies, where he is also Director of Research.

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