Tel: +44 2476 523511
Email: Michael dot Pigott at warwick dot ac dot uk
Faculty of Arts Building
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL
My main research interests are in sound, cinema and place, experimental film and video, and the arts of projection. I was co-investigator on Sensing the City, an AHRC funded project developing humanities-based methods for the investigation of urban space, and before that I was co-investigator on The Projection ProjectLink opens in a new window, an AHRC funded project on the history of cinematic and extra-cinematic projection.
A significant strand of my work has focussed on the development of innovative, trans-disciplinary modes of research practice using sound, video and projection, alongside the development of non-text-based research outputs such as albums, films, video installations, exhibitions and performances. This has involved the application of humanities-based theory and method to the practical analysis of issues in the realms of urban planning, architectural space, and the environment. For example, my RING ROAD RINGLink opens in a new window album is the result of practical fieldwork around the concrete pylons that hold up the Coventry ring road, interpreted and re-composed through a process of engagement with the cultural and political history of the modernist megastructure that is the ring road. This formed part of the larger Sensing the City project, which undertook an embodied sensory mapping of the city, with a view to informing urban planning policy.
My work on The Projection ProjectLink opens in a new window involved an exploration of extra-cinematic projection practices, alongside a sensory-ethnographic investigaion of the cinema projection box as a work environment, which houses the culture, craft and labour of the projectionist as well as the underlying apparatus of cinema. This project documented the shifting sonic texture of projection boxes in the UK, during the changeover from primarily 35mm to digital projection. This research formed part of the larger project goal of engaging with the nature of the digital through diverse and surprising methodological avenues.
This mixture of theoretical, historical and investigation has also entailed a media-archaeological (or ‘an-archaeological’ to use a term from Siegfried Zielinski) methodology, performing practical interventions into media technologies in order to examine the layers of history and culture underlying the ways that we use and relate to them. For instance my Digital Light ProcessingLink opens in a new window project involved the performative breaking and misusing of digital projectors to better understand their affordances, potentials and limitations, as well as the assumptions about visual and auditory perception, the projected image, and ‘cinema’, that are literally built into them.
I have a long-held interest in the history and theory of experimental film and video, manifesting primarily in my monograph Joseph Cornell Versus Cinema (Bloomsbury, 2013), in documentary practices, and in world cinema. These interests combine with my ongoing work on sound, field recording and the representation of landscape and environment in a forthcoming monograph entitled Wild Sound: Cinema and the Sonic Environment (Bloomsbury, forthcoming).
Michael is also an artist under the name Michael Lightborne. His website is www.michaellightborne.com
I have particular interests in:
- The relationship between cinema and architecture; the practical use of film and sound recording techniques to investigate space, both urban and rural; video projection (including projection mapping) and urban space.
- Sound and cinema, sonic environments and sonic environmentalism.
- Phonographic field recording and sensory ethnography.
- The temporality of moving image works, slow motion and long duration, and the ontology and aesthetics of digital video.
- The history of cinema projection and the role of the projectionist
- VJing and live cinema.
- Experimental film and video art
I am currently working on a monograph about film sound and the representation of sonic environments, entitled Wild Sound: Cinema and the Sonic Environment.
- Wild Sound: Cinema and the Sonic Environment (London: Bloomsbury: forthcoming)
Selected publications and releases
- Listening to the AnthropoceneLink opens in a new window (Hyperpossible, 2021) - vinyl and digital audio release, curated and co-ordinated for the Listening to the Anthropocene exhibition at Coventry Cathedral, part of coventry Biennial 2021. Featuring tracks by KMRU, Kate Carr, Lamin Fofana, Simon scott, The Department of Energy, and FRKTL.
- 'The Ignorant Camera', in Urban Sensographies, ed. N. Whybrow (London and New York: Routledge, forthcoming 2021).
‘In conversation: Michael Lightborne with Maud Cotter’ in Maud Cotter: a consequence of – a dappled world (Dublin: Hugh Lane Gallery, 2021).
- Ring Road RingLink opens in a new window (Gruenrekorder, 2020) - vinyl and digital audio release. Can also be purchased hereLink opens in a new window and hereLink opens in a new window.
- 'A New "Wild West" of Projection' (with Richard Wallace), in Virginia Crisp and Gabriel Menotti (eds), Practices of Projection: Histories and Technologies (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 2020).
- 'Chronotopic Ghosts and Quiet Men: José Luis Guerín's Innisfree' in Journeys On Screen: Theory, ethics and aesthetics, ed. Louis Bayman and Natalia Pinazza (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018).
- Sounds of the Projection Box (Gruenrekorder, 2018) - vinyl and digital audio release. Can also be purchased hereLink opens in a new window and hereLink opens in a new window.
- 'The Soundproof Box: Using Phonography to Investigate the Workplace of the Cinema Projectionist' in Invisible Places: Sound, Urbanism and Sense of Place 2017 Proceedings
- ‘Sounds Of The Projection Box: Liner Notes For A Phonographic Method’ in Journal of British Cinema and Television, Vol. 14, No. 1, January 2018
- 'Trapped in the Image: An Interview with Gerard Byrne' in Jielemeguvvie guvvie sjisjnjeli / Film inside an Image (Coventry: Mead Gallery, 2016).
- 'The Image of Sleep', in Performance Research, Vol. 21, No.1 (2016).
- (with Santiago Oyarzabal) World Film Locations: Buenos Aires (Bristol: Intellect Books, 2014).
- Joseph Cornell Versus Cinema (London: Bloomsbury, 2013).
- World Film Locations: Venice (Bristol: Intellect Books, 2013).
- Essays on Jan Němec and Miklós Jancsó, and multiple film entries in Directory of World Cinema: Eastern Europe ed. Adam Bingham (Bristol: Intellect Books, 2011).
- ‘How do you solve a problem like Machinima?’ in The Machinima Reader, ed. Henry Lowood and Michael Nitsche (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011).
- ‘Manifesting a Mutant Past in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, in Violating Time: History, Memory and Nostalgia in Cinema, ed. Christina Lee (London: Continuum, 2009).
- ‘The Continuous Present in Ozu Yasujiro’s Late Spring’, in Kronoscope Volume 8 Number 1 2008.
Teaching and supervision
I teach a 2nd year module entitled Audio-visual Avant-gardes, which is open to students from the Departments of Film and Television Studies, and Theatre and Performance Studies. This module explores the history of avant-garde film, video, sound, and installation work from the early twentieth century up to the present day. I teach units on visual music and experimental film, and photography and cinema for the Visual Cultures core module offered by the Film and Television Studies Dept.
In previous years I have taught courses on: adaptation in audiovisual media that involved the analysis of film, television, and video games (Television and Audiovisual Cultures); Contemporary Art; Art Since the 1960s; an introduction to studying film that focussed on texture, affect and the senses (Basic Criticism).
FI211 Audio-Visual Avant-Gardes
FI330 Cinema and Architecture
FI339 Experimental Documentary Practices
FI331 Film Production
Sound and Cinema (MA)
RING ROAD RINGLink opens in a new window album - a sonic investigation of the Coventry Ring Road.
Urban SensographiesLink opens in a new window - the main text output of the Sensing the City research project, featuring 'The Ignorant Camera' text about my part of the project.
Listening to the AnthropoceneLink opens in a new window album - curated for the exhibition of the same name at Coventry Cathedral in 2021.
Sounds of the Projection BoxLink opens in a new window - a sonic ethnographic investigation of the environment of the projection box and the work of the cinema projectionist.
Joseph Cornell Versus Cinema - monograph on the films of artist Joseph Cornell.
Digital Light ProcessingLink opens in a new window - audio-visual installation, practical research into the nature of digital projectors, Vivid Projects Birmingham, 2018.