Steven Shaviro, “Reversible Flesh” #SCMS15


[UPDATE: Full video of the complete panel is now online: here.]

Here is the abstract for Steven Shaviro’s paper on the panel “Post-Cinema and/as Speculative Media Theory” at the 2015 SCMS conference in Montréal:

Reversible Flesh

Steven Shaviro (Wayne State University)

FKA twigs has made a series of mesmerizing music videos over the last three years. My talk will concentrate on one of these, “Papi Pacify” (directed by FKA twigs and Tom Beard). The video deals starkly, but also obliquely, with issues of intimacy, trust, sexuality, and violence. The video is shot in continually shifting black and white, with glitter and flash effects, and composed entirely of close-ups of the faces and upper bodies of the artist (often staring directly at the camera) and her partner. The video’s editing rhythms are complex and nonlinear, involving looping via animated GIF effects, together with quick inserts and apparent slow motion. The music combines trip hop and r&b; it is floating and ambient, sung in a breathless near-whisper, with periods of instrumental intensification but no tonal shift or climax. Overall, the video disconcertingly reorders human sexuality, by means of its novel articulation of spacetime relations, of the sensorium, and of the relation between viewer/listener and work. In this way, “Papi Pacify,” and FKA twigs’ audiovisual work more generally, itself functions as a speculative revision of media theory.


Battin, Carrie (2013). “FKA twigs: Interview.” Pitchfork.

Friedlander, Emily (2013). “How FKA twigs is Pushing Female Sexuality Beyond Miley Cyrus and Sinead.” The Fader.

Noakes, Tim (2014). “FKA twigs: Future Shock.” Dazed Digital.

Author Bio:

Steven Shaviro is the DeRoy Professor of English at Wayne State University. He is the author of The Cinematic Body, Post-Cinematic Affect, and Melancholia, Or, The Romantic Anti-Sublime.

One response to “Steven Shaviro, “Reversible Flesh” #SCMS15

  1. Pingback: #SCMS15 — Post-Cinema, Digital Seriality, and a Book Giveaway! | medieninitiative

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