On May 15, 2013 (6:00 pm in room 615, Conti-Hochhaus), the Initiative for Interdisciplinary Media Research is proud to present Forbidden Planet (1956), the second installment in this semester’s series of film screenings, “Imagining Media Change.” (See here for a flyer with more details about our film series and related events, and here for a description of the symposium that forms the conceptual centerpiece.)
As a space-age re-imagining of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, complete with the first fully electronic soundtrack in a feature-legth film, Forbidden Planet challenges us to re-think the discursive and material trajectories according to which histories of film and media change are negotiated in popular culture.
Incidentally, Catherine Grant from the excellent blog Film Studies for Free has assembled a great set of links to open-access and freely available articles about Forbidden Planet, which you can find here.
As usual, our screening is free and open to all, so please spread the word to anyone who might be interested in joining us.
Techno-Phenomenology, Medium as Interface, and the Metaphysics of Change
Shane Denson, Leibniz Universität Hannover
Walter Benjamin famously argued that the emergence of modern media of technical reproducibility (photography, film) corresponded to sweeping changes in the organization of what he calls the “medium” of sense perception. To a skeptic like film scholar David Bordwell, Benjamin’s “modernity thesis” (along with Tom Gunning’s related arguments about the “culture of shock”) is pure hyperbole, for cognitive structures are subject to the slow processes of biological evolution while impervious to rapid technological change. The debate has tended to reach impasses over questions of the causal agencies and effects of media change—e.g. whether they concern the broad cultural domain of discourse and signification or the “hard-wiring” of the brain itself. In this presentation, I argue that a “techno-phenomenological” approach—which (following cues from Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Don Ihde, among others) focuses on the embodied interfaces in which human intentionalities are variously mediated by technologies—enables us to see media change as involving experiential transformations that are at once robustly material, and hence not restricted to cultural or psycho-semiotic domains, while still compatible with the long durations of biological evolution. An “anthropotechnical interface,” based in proprioceptive and visceral sensibilities, will be shown to constitute the primary site of media change.
On Wednesday, May 8, 2013 (at 6:00 pm in room 608 in the Conti-Hochhaus), the Film & TV Reading Group will meet to discuss two texts relevant to the larger theme of “Imagining Cinematic Transformation” (part of a semester-long series of events detailed here). The texts are:
2) Thomas Elsaesser and Malte Hagener, “Conclusion: digital cinema — the body and the senses refigured?”, in: _Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses_. New York and London: Routledge, 2010. 170-187.
We are always happy to welcome new participants to our informal discussion group! For more information, please contact Felix Brinker.
Today is Zukunftstag (“Future Day” or “Day of the Future”) here in Germany. On this day, 5th graders go to a place of work (a corporation, a bank, a hospital, a factory, police department, etc.) instead of going to school. Today, my ten-year-old son (a.k.a. DrZombie999) came with me to the university to see what it’s like to work here. I showed him what kinds of things we do here everyday: you know, the usual things like playing video games, goofing around, and surfing YouTube…
But then we decided to get serious, and we put together the video above. Having built the world you see in the popular game Minecraft, DrZombie999 takes us on a little guided tour, which we then saved as a screencast video, edited with nonlinear editing software (where he learned how to add transitions, effects, music, etc.), posted to a brand new YouTube account, and blogged here to get the word out.
DrZombie999 promises that this is only the first in an ongoing series of videos, and he asks viewers to vote for what they’d like to see him build next (from the Lord of the Rings universe). Please leave a comment on his YouTube site if you’ve got an idea! He’ll only be taking votes for one month (until May 25, 2013)!
Recently, I posted the description for the symposium on “Imagining Media Change” that we’re organizing this June, with keynote speakers Jussi Parikka and Wanda Strauven — part of this semester’s larger series of events. Now I am proud to present the poster for the symposium (designed by Ilka Brasch and Svenja Fehlhaber), which includes an overview of the schedule and speakers. A more detailed schedule, including the titles of talks, will be made available soon.
Over at the media commons site in media res, what promises to be a great theme week on “Conspiracies and Surveillance” has just gotten underway. All of the contributions sound exciting, and among them is one by our very own Felix Brinker, who’s up tomorrow (Tuesday, April 9) with a piece on the “logics of conspiracy” in American TV series. (And in case you missed it, make sure you check out the longer text on the topic that Felix allowed me to post here recently.)
Here’s the full lineup for the in media res theme week:
Monday, April 8, 2013 – Jason Derby (Georgia State University) presents: Scandalous Conspiracies: Making Sense of Popular Scandal Through Conspiracy
Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - Felix Brinker (Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany) presents: Contemporary American Prime-Time Television Serials and the Logics of Conspiracy
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 – Meagan Winkelman (University of Oregon) presents: Sexuality and Agency in Pop Star Conspiracy Theories
Thursday, April 11, 2013 - Perin Gurel (University of Notre Dame) presents: Transnational Conspiracy Theories and Vernacular Visual Cultures: Political Islam in Turkey and America
Friday, April 12, 2013 - Jack Bratich (Rutgers University) presents: Millions of Americans Believe Conspiracy Theories Exist
Each day’s contribution, consisting of a video clip of up to three minutes accompanied by a short essay of 300-350 words, is designed to serve as a conversation starter aimed at involving a broad audience in discussion of key topics relating to the topic of “Conspiracies and Surveillance.”
Please check out all the contributions as they go live here, and consider joining the discussion (to participate, you will need to register at in media res).
On April 17, 2013, we will be screening the serial Flash Gordon(1936), the first installment in this semester’s film series “Imagining Media Change.” (See here for a flyer with more details about our film series and related events, and here for a description of the symposium that forms the conceptual centerpiece.) In this context, science fiction (and sci-fi film, in particular) presents itself as a central vehicle for “imagining media change” in the 20th and 21st centuries — as a medium for conceiving the future, and in this way negotiating the changes characterising the present. Looked at in retrospect, early sci-fi films like Flash Gordon therefore also form a natural site for a media-archaeological investigation of past changes and their parallel histories and relations to our own ongoing efforts to negotiate the transition to a digital mediascape.
The screening (6:00pm on Wednesday, April 17, in room 615, Conti-Hochhaus) is free and open to all, so spread the word to anyone who might be interested in joining us.