Beatriz Bartolomé Herrera (Concordia University, Montreal) presented at the Media Convergence Research Centre at Bath Spa. The symposium theme is intended to provide the opportunity for MeCCSA to focus on questions of practice and/as media industry research and aims to showcase both scholarly and practice-based research that considers the complex relationships between the theoretical study of media industries and creative forms of practice and practice-based research. The study of media industries is now a focal point at many universities, promising the potential for rich dialogues between academia and industry, and between theory and practice. Media, communications and cultural studies (including film, television, publishing, radio, music and social platforms) are central to the pursuits of media industry research, with scholars seeking to investigate and to theorise the industrial workings of these media – be it their macro social, economic and political influences or their micro production cultures, distribution practices and professional ideologies (Caldwell 2008; McDonald 2013; Freeman 2016). While the study of media industries itself indicates a bridging between theory and practice – between the study of media forms and the pragmatics of media making – far less attention has been paid to what the study of media industries looks like as practice-based or practice-led research, or how collaboration between academia and the media industries actively shapes practice. As such, the symposium theme is intended to provide the opportunity for MeCCSA to focus on questions of practice and/as media industry research and aims to showcase both scholarly and practice-based research that considers the complex relationships between the theoretical study of media industries and creative forms of practice and practice-based research.
Beatriz Bartolomé Herrera’s presentation, Behind the Scenes: Networked Collaborations and Museum Exhibition Design explored the interface between academia and industry in museum exhibition practice. Since the 1990’s blockbuster-movie themed traveling exhibitions such as The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park (American Museum of Natural History, 1993), Star Wars: The Magic of Myth (Smithsonian Institution, 1997), Indiana Jones and the Adventures of Archaeology (Montreal Science Museum, 2011), or Star Wars: Identities (Montreal Science Museum, 2012) have attracted millions of visitors across museums worldwide. As part of the growing subfield of media industry studies, my dissertation Coming to a Museum Near You: Blockbuster Movie- Themed Exhibitions and the Making of a Cultural Alliance discusses the blockbuster movie themed exhibition as a new articulation of the American film industry into the context of museums and other related cultural institutions. For this one-day symposium, the focus explores the significant rise of design firms and film production departments dedicated to the development, distribution, and promotion of cinematic museum events and blockbuster movie-themed exhibitions as the ones above mentioned. Following John T. Caldwell’s cultural-industrial methodology as well as Derek Johnson’s study of the management of media franchises and their cultures of production, the project combines archival research in museum institutions with interviews to exhibition developers and technical providers to analyze the ideas, creativity, labor, and social relations that shape the networked production and circulation of blockbuster movie themed-exhibitions. Questions driving this presentation will include: How design companies and cultural workers negotiate in practice the sometimes conflicting interests of the film industry and the museum? How do these collaborations and networked practices shape both museum institution and film industrial activities today? And, in which ways are the tensions and questions around brand control and creativity dealt with and distributed among them? Overall, she provided insights about the reliance of museums and the film industry on outsourcing practices, and the multiple production layers and daily operations that drive the development of blockbuster-movie themed exhibitions.
Beatriz Bartolomé Herrera is a Ph.D. Candidate in Film & Moving Image Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. Her research explores the deployment of film industrial practices in the museum through an analysis of blockbuster-movie themed exhibitions, promotional media events, and related educational activities. She has presented at a number of conferences, including SCMS, NECS, and Visible Evidence. Beatriz also teaches courses on the history of cinema, and the media industries and creative labor at Concordia’s undergraduate film studies program.
Above: Beatriz is introduced by Bath Spa University’s Richard Stamp