Images of Discorrelation at ASAP/10 in New Orleans

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Next week, Oct. 17-20, 2018, the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (ASAP) will be holding its annual conference in New Orleans. There I will be on a panel, called “Images Otherwise,” with some excellent co-panelists: Andrew Johnston (NC State), Brooke Belisle (SUNY Stony Brook), and Jacob Gaboury (UC Berkeley). I will be presenting work related to my forthcoming book, Discorrelated Images.

Here is my abstract:

Images of Discorrelation

Shane Denson, Stanford University

This presentation deals with the ongoing transition from a cinematic to a post-cinematic media regime. Situated at the cusp between film studies and digital media studies, “images of discorrelation” names a variety of contemporary visual phenomena (glitches, artifacts, motion-smoothing, etc.) and seeks to articulate a theory of the perceptual, actional, and above all affective impacts of the thoroughgoing computationalization of moving-image media. The concept of “discorrelation” concerns the severing of phenomenological relations between viewing subjects and image-objects; it results from the failure, on the part of contemporary cameras and other imaging devices, to situate spectators in a coherently articulated viewing position. Furthermore, discorrelation is an effect of the microtemporal processing of computational images, which impacts viewers’ own embodied processing of time at a subperceptual level, prior to the articulation of subject-object relations. This generative dimension implicates computational imaging systems, including their use in mainstream movies and other media, in a fundamental transformation of human-technological relations.

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Slowness and Slow Cinema

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My student Spencer Slovic has just published an excellent video essay on “Slowness and Slow Cinema” at Film Matters, which will be of interest to people thinking about contemporary and world cinema, or simply interested in the medium of the video essay (and this is a very good one!).

Spencer’s video grew out of an assignment for my “Post-Cinema” seminar, which I taught in the winter quarter of 2017. An earlier version was featured in the exhibition I curated at Stanford, Post-Cinema: Videographic Explorations (you can still see all of the videos online).

In any case, the version featured in Film Matters is much improved, having gone through a rigorous peer-review process. Take a look!

New Review of Post-Cinema in Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft 18 (2018)

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There is a new review of several works on all things post-cinematic, including Post-Cinema: Theorizing 21st-Century Film (which I co-edited with Julia Leyda), alongside Francesco Casetti’s The Lumière Galaxy; Malte Hagener, Vinzenz Hediger, and Alena Strohmaier’s edited collection The State of Post-Cinema; Vinzenz Hediger and Miriam de Rosa’s special issue Post-What? Post-When?; and Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky’s Queeres Post-Cinema.

The review, in German, is titled “Werden/Weiter/Denken: Rekapitulation eines Post-Cinema Diskurses” (roughly: Becoming/Further/Thinking — suggesting a thinking in flux and a thinking beyond — Recapitulation of a Post-Cinema Discourse). The text, by Elisa Linseisen from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, appears in Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft 18 (2018). The full text is available as an open-access PDF.

Ends of Cinema: Center for 21st Century Studies 2018 Conference at UW Milwaukee

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I am excited to be participating in the Ends of Cinema conference at the Center for 21st Century Studies, taking place May 3-5, 2018 at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. There are some great keynote speakers, including my colleague Jean Ma and lots of other wonderful people. The C21, under the expert leadership of Richard Grusin (who is now back at the helm after a short hiatus), has put on some of my personal favorite conferences, and I expect this one to be no less exciting and thought-provoking.

My own contribution will be a paper titled “Post-Cinematic Realism” — work in progress for my current book project Discorrelated Images. Here is the abstract:

Post-Cinematic Realism

Shane Denson, Stanford University

In its classical formulation, cinematic realism is based in the photographic ontology of film, i.e. in the photograph’s indexical relation to the world, which grants to film its unique purchase on reality; upon this relation also hinged, for many realist filmmakers, the political promise of realism. Digital media, meanwhile, are widely credited with disrupting indexicality and instituting an alternative ontology of the image. David Rodowick, for example, argues that the interjection of digital code disrupts film’s “automatisms” and eradicates the index in favor of the symbolic. But while such arguments are in many respects compelling, I contend that the disruption of photographic indexicality might also be seen to open up spaces in which to explore new automatisms that communicate reality and/or realism with and through post-indexical technologies.

Whereas André Bazin privileged techniques like the long take and deep focus for their power to approximate our natural perception of time and space, theorists like Maurizio Lazzarato and Mark Hansen emphasize post-cinematic media’s ability to approximate the sub-perceptual processing of duration executed by our pre-personal bodies. The perceptual discorrelation of computational images gives way, in other words, to a more precise calibration of machinic and embodied temporalities; simultaneously, the perceptual richness of Bazin’s images becomes less important, while “poor images” (in Hito Steyerl’s term) communicate more directly the material and political realities of a post-cinematic environment. As I will demonstrate with reference to a variety of moving-image texts employing glitches, drones, and other computational objects, post-cinematic media might in fact be credited with a newly intensified political relevance through their institution of a new, post-cinematic realism.