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5-11 August, 2024

BAL Summer school

Līču skola, Mazsalaca, Latvia

Being located in Salaca River’s national park, the school will focus on engagement with the surroundings by exploring the local area and learning the local myths and folklore that are rooted in the Latvian cultural heritage and paganism that is still practiced in our present-day culture.

Participants will be meeting local storytellers who will bring us on a walk in the Salaca River nature park trail, telling the local myths and legends of trees turning humans into werewolves and birds singing songs that bring their listeners to another century.


Participants will be invited to interact with the local environment by learning about plant-based photochemistry, simple environmentally friendly techniques of creating films, as well as creative techniques of shooting and creating films using very simple, but deeply hacked techniques.

Amongst the teaching, lecturers will be Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie from Australia, Karel Doing from the United Kingdom, and Katherine Bauer from the United States.

 Participants will be divided into three groups that will switch throughout the week allowing participants to try out other workshops, there will also be a space for shorter input workshops led by BAL member Armands Andže and our special visitors from the local folklore collective Delve who will enroll us all in a shamanic fire ritual playing local folk instruments and telling more local folk stories.


At the end of the week, we will have our final performance event where participants will be presenting their created films and film loops by engaging with film projectors in a performative act.

Plant Processing Workshop 

Workshop by Katherine Bauer (USA/FR)

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In this plant processing workshop we will learn how to make a plant developer that will develop black and white 16mm film using just plants, water and ashes as well as fixer made out of salt. The aim is to find a sustainable solution that does not require industrial or toxic materials, not even vitamin C or soda.


There will be the chance to let our films taste a handful of different plant possibilities. We will learn about how to choose plants, when and how to harvest. The preparation of the tea/extraction in order to achieve the desired results, as well as how to embrace the nature of chance and the destandardization of development. 

Along with plant processing we will cover the basic functions for shooting 16mm film with a Bolex camera and how to meter the light when planning to process with plant developers.  

We will focus on creating film loops that will culminate in an expanded cinema performance. 


Considering the projected image in a performative way. Allowing for an exploration of the different colors from various plants side by side and on top of one another, in a layered form, comparing and contrasting their unique plant colors! 

16mm Bi-pack and Cyanotype workshop

by Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie (AU)

A two day workshop basking in sunlight - the first day filming with the bolex to make black and white negatives with multiple images composited together and the second day making prints from these negatives without a darkroom.  In the Bolex we will explore a bi-pack matte technique, where two pieces of film are run through the camera at the same time.  One film is already processed with high contrast mattes and the other is fresh camera stock.  The high contrast film masks part of the frame of the fresh film, leaving unexposed areas alongside what you are filming. We then rewind the film and run it through the camera a second time with the complementary matte - which protects the first image, but allows light onto the areas left unexposed on the first pass.  We can also composite images without an actual matte by double exposing scenes filmed on High Contrast film with silhouettes.  This 'matteless' matteing technique only requires careful exposures and a way to rewind the film for the second exposure.  On the second day we will print our negatives without a darkroom using cyanotype coated 16mm film and sunlight. 


Phytography workshop

with Karel Doing (UK/NL)

Phytography is a technique invented by Karel Doing that makes it possible to create detailed chemical traces of plants directly on photographic emulsion. The process takes place in full daylight and makes use of biodegradable chemistry. During the workshop the artist will explain his technique, placing it in a historical lineage of experimental photography and film while also connecting it to ecological awareness. After this introduction, a hands-on demonstration is provided. Participants can create their own images and see the results in projection.

  • Introduction about direct animation, eco-developers and the phytogram

  • Exploration of the local ecosystem

  • Using local plants to make images directly on 16mm film

  • Projection and discussion

  • Refining the results


Salted Paper workshop

with Armands Andže (BAL, Latvia)

Introductory workshop to a saltprint (salted paper) process. Salted paper process, invented by Henry Fox-Talbot, was the most important paper-based photographic printing process at the beginnings of photography in early 19th century. Originally used to make positive prints from calotype negatives, it can also be used to make photograms of various objects and plants. Together with cyanotpe process, they were the only practiced printing processes in early days of photography.

Participants of this workshop will learn about preparation and exposure of salted paper. Also, participants will have a chance to make large-format negatives, that could be used for contact printing on salted paper.


Fire Ritual 

With Aina Tobe and Gvido Tobis (Delve, Latvia)

Two local folklorists and tellers of ancient stories - Aina Tobe and Gvido Tobis from the folklore group "Delve", will visit the school as special guests this year. The name "delve" is an old Latvian word meaning "bear's paw" - both playfulness and strength are hidden in it.

Aina and Gvido's love belongs to the Rituals of Fire. In ancient times, ritual was a natural and customary part of life for people, which restored and strengthened the natural flow of life, allowing one to realize one's own vitality and giving hope for its existence in the future. Ritual performed at the right time and place enriches life. It strengthens a person's sense of belonging to his land and brings family ties closer, teaching to keep alive the knowledge and traditions of his ancestors. In the music of "Delve", as in a clay pot that came through the fire, tradition and creativity are fused.

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