The Unidentified Frame Observatory (OVNI, “Observatori de Vídeo No Identificat” in Catalan) has been a resident research project at the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) for almost three decades. OVNI’s activities are structured thematically and aim at encouraging and enabling a critique of contemporary culture and society, using strategies based on the expansive and heterodox use of video as a medium. OVNI has always chosen to avoid prefabricated models and formats, approaching research as a daring quest for knowledge in the contemporary world. In the era of serialized images, OVNI speaks of things as yet “unidentified”, of the unforeseen, and of that which ventures into the unknown.
The OVNI archives record and document three decades spanning from analogue video to digital video in the era of “social” media. The archives are the result of the various thematic research projects carried out over the years: a constellation of works that differ from one another but share a commitment to freedom of expression and reflect on our individual and collective fears and pleasures. OVNI has achieved its purposes also thanks to its publicly accessible archives, to its touring thematic programmes, and to the many workshops and educational activities and screenings. The complete archive (currently 2,158 titles) is permanently available for public viewing at the CCCB. An online version of the archive (currently 1,281 titles) has been available since 2003. In 2004, the archives won the prestigious National Cultural Heritage Prize awarded by the Generalitat de Catalunya.
The Observatory has preferred to steer away from one-off events. Instead, it has focused on developing close ties with filmmakers and artists, and on building a stable knowledge infrastructure in Barcelona through various projects, also in collaboration with MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art). Special emphasis has been put on gender equality, promoting works and research by women. In particular, the collaboration with Drac Magic and The Festival de les Dones has allowed to develop even further the issues of gender equality and women in cinema.