L’Abominable is an artist-run film laboratory near Paris.
Since 1996, it offers filmmakers the tools to work with silver-based film material: super-8, 16mm and 35mm. Different machines used for film production have been pooled together: one can develop negative or reversal originals, create blow-ups or optical printer effects, edit, work on sound or strike prints.
The filmmakers who already know how to work these machines train the ones who are just starting out. After this support period, each filmmaker can be independent in his or her work and explore the technical possibilities on one’s own.
In this way, without a selection process for projects, a wide variety of films are produced including “live” film performances or installations using the film medium. The scope of what is produced there and the specificity of practices make L’Abominable a unique place of creation, a living conservatory of cinematographic techniques.
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A place dedicated to creation
Films made in L’Abominable are often distributed by experimental film cooperatives such as Light Cone and the Collectif Jeune Cinéma. The artists themselves distribute some works, in particular performances and installations.
A catalogue detailing all the projects that have been made since the lab’s inception is available on this website.
L’Abominable also archives documents and videos of the projects that have been produced, making them available to programmers and organizing regular screenings such as the series “10 years of L’Abominable” at the Cine 104 Pantin in 2006-2007.
A lively network
In recent years, over 30 artist-run film labs have been created in Europe and around the world. Through meetings and screenings, helping each other, debates and exchanges of all kinds, since the beginning these organizations have functioned as a network, in order to share experiences and the technical, aesthetic and political questions unique to these practices. Since 2005, the Filmlabs.org website lists the different groups, allowing us to pool our technical knowledge, to share information about the work we have produced, to discuss and to organize.
The evolution of L’Abominable, as of all these laboratories, reflects a history in the making. In an age when digital technologies are taking over, artists are recovering the tool of cinematography from the industrial labs and reclaiming the entire manufacturing process. This new autonomy allows for filmmaking to overcome production networks and institutional funding. But beyond economy, by concretely confronting the manufacture of images, it allows for using new tools, inventing new forms of expression and exploring uncharted territories of cinema.