Film Series on “Imagining Media Change” — Screening #4: Hugo

After successfully celebrating the “conceptual centerpiece” of this term’s media initiative activities — our symposium on “Imagining Media Change” — we are going to wrap up this semester’s film series with a screening of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011), curated by Ilka Brasch.

On the one hand, Hugo is a celebration not only of George Méliès (the French filmmaker who is considered to be one of cinema’s founding fathers and a pivotal creator of early trick film), but a collage of 19th and early 20th century media-technological history, featuring everything from trains and automata to late 19th century trick film and 1920s comedy. On the other hand, however, Hugo is also a celebration of the possibilities enabled by the digital age’s return to 3D. As Therese Grisham has pointed outHugo draws on “cultural stereotypes of the past” while simultaneously underlining “our definite entry into the episteme of the post-cinematic”.

Besides offering a form of bricolage or pastiche, Hugo can be read in terms of media archaeology, as both a revisiting and appropriation of visual culture’s history. The film assembles 19th and early 20th century anecdotes in order to provide a new 21stcentury or even post-cinematic anecdote.

As always, the screening — on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 (at 6:00 pm in room 615, Conti-Hochhaus) is free and open to all.

Also, if you haven’t already done so, you might want to consider watching Méliès’ Le Voyage Dans La Lune, one of the turn of the century trick films to which much in Hugo relates back. Here’s an excerpt:

Symposium Program: “Imagining Media Change”

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Here is the final program for our symposium “Imagining Media Change” (print version above, and links to each speaker’s abstract below):

Imagining Media Change — June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover

9:30 — Welcome, Ruth Mayer (Chair of American Studies, Hannover)

9:45 – 11:15 — Keynote I, Jussi Parikka (Southampton): “Cultural Techniques of Cognitive Capitalism: On Change and Recurrence”

11:15 – 11:45 — coffee break

11:45 – 13:15 — Panel I:

11:45 — Florian Groß (Hannover): “The Only Constant is Change: American Television and Media Change Revisited”

12:15 — Bettina Soller (Göttingen): “How We Imagined Electronic Literature and Who Died: Looking at Fan Fiction to See What Became of the Future of Writing”

12:45 — Shane Denson (Hannover): “On NOT Imagining Media Change”

13:15 – 15:00 — lunch break

15:00 – 16:30 — Keynote II, Wanda Strauven (Amsterdam): “Pretend (&) Play: Children as Media Archaeologists”

16:30 – 17:00 — coffee break

17:00 – 18:30 — Panel II:

17:00 — Christina Meyer (Hannover): “Technology – Economy – Mediality: Nineteenth Century American Newspaper Comics”

17:30 — Ilka Brasch (Hannover): “Facilitating Media Change: The Operational Aesthetic as a Receptive Mode”

18:00 — Alexander Starre (Berlin): “Evolving Technologies, Enduring Media: Material Irony in Octave Uzanne’s ‘The End of Books'”

19:30 — symposium dinner

Jussi Parikka, “Cultural Techniques of Cognitive Capitalism”

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Abstract for Jussi Parikka’s keynote talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

Cultural Techniques of Cognitive Capitalism: On Change and Recurrence

Jussi Parikka

This talk has primarily two functions and aims. Firstly, it discusses the concept of cognitive capitalism from the perspective of its constituent cultural techniques. It proposes the ever so slightly unholy wedding together of post-fordist political theory with some currents in German media theory. This is done in order to discuss some of the mediatic aspects of the notion of cognitive capitalism (Yann Moulier Boutang). Secondly, the talk discusses media cultural change and the temporalities in which such notions like cognitive capitalism are distributed. By discussing software culture it argues for the various temporalities of change that are always at play in media cultural perspective.

Florian Groß, “The Only Constant is Change”

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Abstract for Florian Groß’s talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

The Only Constant is Change: American Television and Media Change Revisited

Florian Groß

“This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. Goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again.” This is how 1960s adman Don Draper describes a slide projector in the historical television series Mad Men, and his pitch is also a potent way of describing the medium itself. From its development out of radio and film to its present convergence with digital media, television’s interaction with other media and processes of media change was often linked to its negotiation of the future and the past, progress and retrospection, and innovation and nostalgia.

This paper argues that in order to understand the future of television and the potential results of its increasing interaction with digital media, an understanding of the medium’s past as well as television’s own understandings of its past is instrumental. In this context, Mad Men’s historiography and its attempt to unearth and create historical material helps us to come to terms with the layers of television’s past whose residues always coexist with the medium in transition and continue to influence the shape of televisual things to come.

Bettina Soller, “How We Imagined Electronic Literature”

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Abstract for Bettina Soller’s talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

How We Imagined Electronic Literature and Who Died: Looking at Fan Fiction to See What Became of the Future of Writing

Bettina Soller

Starting in the pre-Web era, the first emergence of electronic literature was accompanied by a wave of theoretical writings about literary hypertext. Theorists had visions of the escape from the book’s linearity and the far-reaching effects of hypertext on the future of reading and writing. Enthralled by the newness of the media, critics envisioned the death of the book, the author, the reader, and the editor in an effort to make sense of the changes awaiting literature, while at the same time establishing a canon of e-literature and the notion of a high culture of hypermedia practices.

Since then, the end of the golden age of hypertext literature has been announced. Literary studies degraded electronic and digital literature to one of its marginal subject matters. While the circus moved on, forms of writing that challenge established notions of text, work, author, and reader thrive online and extensively outnumber the canon of electronic literature established by first wave critics. This paper will examine fan fiction as one of the most proliferating digital and online writing phenomena. Fan fiction writing encompasses the practice of readers who become authors expanding, appropriating and transforming texts of popular culture. These fan texts are published in online archives and on personal sites in social journaling portals. Through an examination of this electronic literature phenomenon, some of the major theses of hypertext theory will be reexamined to see what became of the future of writing and who actually died.

Shane Denson, “On NOT Imagining Media Change”

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Abstract for Shane Denson’s talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

On NOT Imagining Media Change

Shane Denson

There are many ways in which we imagine media change and technological transformation; foremost among them, in the modern era, are popular and commercial visions of the future – from science-fiction narratives to advertisements for the latest gadget guaranteed to change your life. However, if we suppose that human agencies are inextricably tied to, and in part enabled by, the material infrastructure of a media-technological environment, then our imaginations – as they are focused, reflected, or courted in representational media – must be seen to lag behind infrastructural shifts, which would sweep our imagining subjectivities along with them. If, that is, our capacity to imagine media change is itself mediated through a changing media-technological environment, then certain aspects of media change must be categorically immune to imagination.

In this presentation, I will focus on this phenomenon of NOT imagining media change. I will outline a theoretical model according to which media change pertains not only to empirically determinate transformations in media-technical apparatuses and systems, but more broadly to the environmental substrate of discursive and phenomenological subjectivities. I will argue that a pre-reflective “anthropotechnical interface,” based in proprioceptive and visceral sensibilities, constitutes the primary site of media change. Accordingly, the embodied parameters of our imaginative faculties are themselves subject to radical transformation, such that both spectacular and unobtrusive changes in the media environment can occasion deep changes in our experiential frameworks – changes that elude representation and imagination.

Wanda Strauven, “Children as Media Archaeologists”

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Abstract for Wanda Strauven’s keynote talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

Pretend (&) Play: Children as Media Archaeologists

Wanda Strauven

In this talk, I will present a series of concrete situations where children make, very intuitively, connections between the past, the present and the future of media. In their play, children often “imagine” future media applications by actually applying them. Their imagination is therefore more than just a fantasy or mental fabrication; it is instead a practice or “form of activity” (Tätigkeit), to use Siegfried Zielinski’s definition of media archaeology. Especially in their act of “repurposing” media and other devices, children become true media archaeologists. In other words, I will offer some thoughts about the child’s play as a media-archaeological laboratory. For this purpose, I will also take into account some general theories about play, game, object lesson, optical toys and language.