Post-Cinema and/as Environmental Media Theory #SCMS15


I am very happy to announce that the panel I will be chairing at this year’s SCMS conference, “Post-Cinema and/as Speculative Media Theory,” has been chosen as one of eight panels to be officially sponsored by the Media and the Environment Special Interest Group. The group, of which I am proud to be a member, defines its mission thus:

The Media and the Environment Scholarly Interest Group (MESIG) aims to provide a forum for shared discussion of research and pedagogy at the intersections of media and environment. We believe that nearly every aspect of film and media practice and studies–from materials manufacturing and physical infrastructures, to filming locations and resources, to audiovisual aspects and themes, and beyond to marketing, preservation, obsolescence, and also scholarly discourse–touches matters of the environment and sustainability. Various approaches from an environmentalist perspective have been taken and more are still being developed to investigate how our mediated cultural practices have, do, and will position humans in relation to physical and natural worlds. How can we further film and media studies as a global–read planetary–concern, focused on dire changes and issues affecting the Earth and our natural surroundings? We believe our field has much to contribute to discussions and findings more frequently held in and attributed to science disciplines and Environmental Studies. With this Scholarly Interest Group, we seek to cultivate the study of significant matters of media and the environment within our field and through the representative collective that is SCMS.

I am honored that our panel — which includes one explicitly environmental film/media theorist (Adrian Ivakhiv) but also three others (Steven Shaviro, Patricia Pisters, and Mark Hansen) who are helping to define the subject of post-cinema in broadly ecological terms — has been chosen for sponsorship by the Media and the Environment SIG, and I am grateful for their recognition of the topic’s relevance for our ongoing attempts to rethink the relations between humans, our media technologies, and the environments that we inhabit, access, and transform with and through them.

Here, finally, is a list of all eight panels sponsored by the SIG:

A23: Ecocriticism

F8: Fossils, Films, and Sedimentation: Ecocritical Approaches to Archival Moving Images

G4: Media Waste: Technological Systems and the Environment

H22: Excess Hollywood: Economies of Waste in Media Industries

J12: Engaging Ecocinema: The Affects and Effects of Environmental Documentaries

J17: Media Environments

K7: Post-Cinema and/as Speculative Media Theory

P4: Cinema in/of the Anthropocene

SCMS 2015 Preliminary Schedule Online — #SCMS15


The preliminary schedule for the Society of Cinema and Media Studies 2015 conference in Montreal is now online (here). As I posted recently, I will be involved in two separate panels:

First, I will be chairing the panel on “Post-Cinema and/as Speculative Media Theory” (panel K7, Friday, March 27, 2015, 9:00-10:45am) — with presenters Steven Shaviro, Patricia Pisters, Adrian Ivakhiv, and Mark B. N. Hansen. You can find the complete panel description, as well as individual abstracts, here. Note also that all participants on this panel are contributors to the forthcoming Post-Cinema: Theorizing 21st-Century Film, which I am co-editing with Julia Leyda.

Second, I will be participating in a panel on “Digital Seriality” (panel Q20, Saturday, March 28, 2015, 3:00-4:45pm) — along with Andreas Jahn-Sudmann, Scott Higgins, Dominik Maeder, and Daniela Wentz. Panel description and abstracts can be found here. And, as with the other panel, this one too has a tie-in with a publication: all the participants on this panel were contributors to the special issue of Eludamos: Journal for Computer Game Culture that Andreas Jahn-Sudmann and I edited on the topic of “Digital Seriality.”

“Post-Cinema and/as Speculative Media Theory” — Panel at #SCMS15 in Montreal


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

At the upcoming conference of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (March 25-29, 2015 in Montréal), I will be chairing a panel on “Post-Cinema and/as Speculative Media Theory,” which brings together four of the most significant voices in the ongoing attempt to theorize our current media situation: Steven Shaviro, Patricia Pisters, Adrian Ivakhiv, and Mark B. N. Hansen.

(Not quite incidentally, all four speakers are also contributors to the forthcoming volume Post-Cinema: Theorizing 21st-Century Film, which I am co-editing with Julia Leyda.)

Here is the panel description, along with links (below) to the abstracts for the various papers:

Post-Cinema and/as Speculative Media Theory

Following debates over “the end” of film and/or cinema in the wake of the massive digitalization of moving-image media, recent film theory has begun considering the emergence of a new, properly “post-cinematic” media regime (cf. Shaviro 2010; Denson and Leyda, forthcoming). The notion of post-cinema takes up the problematic prefix “post-,” which debates over postmodernism and postmodernity taught us to treat not as a marker of definitive beginnings and ends, but as indicative of a more subtle shift or transformation in the realm of culturally dominant aesthetic and experiential forms (cf. Jameson 1991). In the context of post-cinema, this suggests not so much a clear-cut break with traditional media forms but a transitional movement taking place along an uncertain timeline, following an indeterminate trajectory, and characterized by juxtapositions and overlaps between the techniques, technologies, and aesthetic conventions of “old” and “new” moving-image media.

The ambiguous temporality of the “post-,” which intimates a feeling both of being “after” something and of being “in the middle of” uncertain changes – hence speaking to the closure of a certain past as much as a radical opening of futurity – necessitates a speculative form of thinking that is tuned to experiences of contingency and limited knowledge. With respect to twenty-first century media, theories of post-cinema inherit this disposition, relating it to concrete media transformations while speculating more broadly about the effects they might have on us, our cognitive and aesthetic sensibilities, our agency, or our sense of history.

Bringing together several key figures in the theoretical discussions of post-cinema, this panel seeks to explore and expand this speculative dimension. Steven Shaviro looks at a recent FKA twigs music video as an encapsulation of the post-cinematic media regime at large, theorizing the speculative theoretical work done by the video itself. Patricia Pisters argues that post-cinematic appropriations of archival materials lead to a necessarily speculative revision of history. Adrian Ivakhiv brings the discussion into contact with pressing issues of ecological change. Finally, Mark B. N. Hansen offers a media-philosophical perspective on post-cinema as a future-oriented mode of experience. Together, these interventions articulate post-cinema’s media-technical, aesthetic, ecological, and philosophical vectors in order to develop an emphatically speculative media theory.


Denson, Shane, and Julia Leyda. Post-Cinema: Theorizing 21st-Century Film. Sussex: REFRAME Books, forthcoming.

Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke UP, 1991.

Shaviro, Steven. Post-Cinematic Affect. Winchester: Zero Books, 2010.

Chair Bio:

Shane Denson is a DAAD postdoctoral fellow at Duke University and a member of the research unit “Popular Seriality—Aesthetics and Practice.” He is the author of Postnaturalism: Frankenstein, Film, and the Anthropotechnical Interface (Transcript 2014) and co-editor of several collections: Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives (Bloomsbury, 2013), Digital Seriality (special issue of Eludamos, forthcoming), and Post-Cinema: Theorizing 21st Century Film (REFRAME, forthcoming).

Finally, here are links to the individual abstracts:

Steven Shaviro, “Reversible Flesh”

Patricia Pisters, “The Filmmaker as Metallurgist: Post-Cinema’s Commitment to Radical Contingency”

Adrian Ivakhiv, “Speculative Ecologies of (Post-)Cinema”

Mark B. N. Hansen, “Speculative Protention, or, Are 21st Century Media Agents of Futurity?”

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

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.

Patricia Pisters, “The Filmmaker as Metallurgist: Post-Cinema’s Commitment to Radical Contingency” #SCMS15


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

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

The Filmmaker as Metallurgist: Post-Cinema’s Commitment to Radical Contingency

Patricia Pisters (University of Amsterdam)

Contemporary film, television series, and visual arts have a particular temporal and narrative aesthetics that show how the future, always speculative and multiple, has become the dominant time for thinking. I propose calling this aesthetic mode of the digital age “the neuro-image” (Pisters 2012). Following Gilles Deleuze’s movement-images and time-images, neuro-images increasingly present us time as multiple feedback loops from possible futures, parallel worlds, and complex narrations where subtle differences can cause a world of (micropolitical) variations, different pasts for different futures.

This presentation will look at the ways in which contemporary artists and filmmakers are committed to the radical contingency of the audio-visual archive – committed to revealing hidden dimensions of history and/in our collective audio-visual archive, in order to revive new perspectives and reveal new versions of the past that seem necessary for the future of “a people to come.” In her project The Archival Fourth Dimension, for example, artist Sarah Pierce revisits newsreel archives and proposes to uncover “a different past” in Irish and colonial history. In his installation homage to Stuart Hall, The Unfinished Conversation (2012), John Akomfrah shows how personal and collective archival footage are in a perpetual dialogue where poetry and politics form an intractable bond and history becomes a speculative world of alternative histories. Silvia Kolbowski resurrects Ulrike Meinhoff in A Few Howls Again (2010) and speaks up for her corps, giving a voice to haunting questions of war, violence, and terrorism. And in Zandj Revolution (2013), filmmaker Tariq Teguia makes a journey from Algeria, to Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and Greece to find inspiration not only in a past revolution – the ninth-century revolution of the Zandj slaves in Iraq – but also in a rebellious and migratory cinematographic style that captures and foreshadows the spirit of the Arab revolution.

Looking at examples such as these, the presentation aims to show how filmmakers become “metallurgists” (Deleuze and Guattari 1994) following the matter-flows of the archive, bending it in concrete forms that can escape from the mnemonic depths and take on a new life, an afterlife. As a politics and a cinematic aesthetics, this undertaking becomes a never-ending story of “trying again, failing again, failing better” with a radical and speculative commitment to the contingencies of history.


Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guatttari. A Thousand Plateaus. London: The Athlone Press, 1994.

Eisenstein, Sergei. The Film Sense. Trans. Jay Leyda. San Diego, New York & London: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1947.

Shaviro, Steven. Post Cinematic Affect. Winchester, UK: Zero Books, 2010.

Pisters, Patricia. The Neuro-Image: A Deleuzian Film-Philosophy for Digital Screen Culture. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012.

Author Bio:

Patricia Pisters is professor of film studies in the department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She is one of the founding editors of Necsus: European Journal of Media Studies. Publications include The Matrix of Visual Culture: Working with Deleuze in Film Theory (Stanford University Press, 2003) and The Neuro-Image: A Deleuzian Film-Philosophy of Digital Screen Culture (Stanford University Press, 2012).

Adrian Ivakhiv, “Speculative Ecologies of (Post-)Cinema” #SCMS15


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

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

Speculative Ecologies of (Post-)Cinema

Adrian Ivakhiv (University of Vermont)

Three sets of intellectual developments frame this paper: (1) debates over the “end of cinema” (and rise of “post-cinema”) in the wake of digital media; (2) recognition across diverse fields that global ecological change—especially, though not solely, impending climate change—is forcing a rearticulation of disciplinary goals and broad societal values; and (3) an upsurge in speculative philosophy, including film and media philosophy, that reconceptualizes sociality, materiality, and relationality in diverse and mutually imbricated ways.

This paper sets out to articulate these three developments together. The emergence of cinema as the “eye of the [twentieth] century” (Cassetti 2008) and its subsequent mutation into something different at the beginning of the twenty-first, and the emergence of ecology as a dominant way of understanding the human-Earth relationship, have not yet been brought and thought together in a sustained way. To do this, I propose a speculative model of cinema, technology, and reality—a process-relational, semiotic-machinic, and “morphogenetic” model rooted in Whitehead, Peirce, and Deleuze/Guattari—to make sense of the ways in which digital cinema reaffirms the lively, kinematic animacy of all things cinematic and extra-cinematic.

Articulating the connections between cinema, semiosis, and materiality makes it possible to conceive of cinema (including digital cinema) as a particular political-ecological articulation of carbon-based life (or biosemiosis). But life, or the semiotic (in Peirce’s terms), exceeds the living. It is machinic (in Deleuzo-Guattarian terms), networked (in Bruno Latour’s), morphogenetic and perpetually differentiating (Deleuze/DeLanda). In this light, I consider what a “post-carbon” cinematic materiality, a materiality beyond the era of petrochemicals—the Capitalocene—might look like, and how digitality, with its proliferation of new forms and its shift to technologies of “the cloud,” affects the possibilities for reclaiming a semiotic commons.


Bozak, Nadia. The Cinematic Footprint: Lights, Camera, Natural Resources. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011.

Cassetti, Francesco. Eye of the Century: Film, Experience, Modernity. Tr. E. Larkin with J Pranolo. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

Ivakhiv, Adrian, Ecologies of the Moving Image: Cinema, Affect, Nature. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013.

Mullarkey, John, Refractions of Reality: Philosophy and the Moving Image. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Shaviro, Steven, Post-Cinematic Affect. Winchester: Zero Books, 2010.

Author Bio:

Adrian Ivakhiv is Professor of Environmental Thought and Culture at the University of Vermont. His research focuses at the intersections between ecology, culture, media, affect, and identity. His books include Ecologies of the Moving Image: Cinema, Affect, Nature (2013) and the forthcoming Why Objects Fly Out the Window: An Eventology Manifesto, in the Whiff of its Passing. He blogs at Immanence: EcoCulture, GeoPhilosophy, MediaPolitics.

Mark B. N. Hansen, “Speculative Protention, or, Are 21st Century Media Agents of Futurity?” #SCMS15


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

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

Speculative Protention, or, Are 21st Century Media Agents of Futurity?

Mark B. N. Hansen (Duke University)

In his effort to develop a philosophical account of time-consciousness in the media age, Bernard Stiegler has invoked cinema (as a stand-in for global, realtime, audiovisual fluxes) as the media object par excellence, the technical temporal object that brokers, models, and operates as surrogate for the temporalization responsible for conscious life. Since the publication of the first volume of Stiegler’s Technics and Time, critics have responded to Stiegler’s project with a mix of enthusiasm and skepticism: enthusiasm for the reworking of seemingly moribund themes of deconstruction into a powerful engagement with contemporary media technologies; skepticism concerning the focus on consciousness and representation as the privileged agent and domain of media’s operationality. One particularly striking consequence of Stiegler’s focus on cinema as temporal technical object is a certain temporal bias toward the past, and a recapitulation of the impasse of protention that plagued Husserl’s account of time-consciousness. So long as protention (the “just-to-come’” futurity that is part of the sensory present on the Husserlian model) is taken to be symmetrical to, and indeed is modelled on or derived from retention (the “just-past” of the sensory present), it cannot but be restricted to something that (1) is already possible from the standpoint of the present, is a mode of possibility belonging to the present, and (2) is representational in the sense of being a “content” of consciousness.

The wide-ranging proliferation of so-called “new media” technologies (what I have called 21st century media in my recent work) affords the opportunity to expand the technical off-loading of time-consciousness that informs the core of Stiegler’s neo-Husserlian thought. Most crucially, 21st century media technologies break the correlation of media with conscious cognition, and thus expand the domain of conjunction to what I have called “worldly sensibility” (the meeting of embodied sensibility and worldly impressionality). In my paper, I shall explore two key aspects of this expansion that directly concern the operationality of “speculative media theory”: 1) how the shift from consciousness to sensibility liberates protentionality from its twin restrictions (possibility of the present and representation of consciousness); and 2) how this shift requires a speculative mode of theorization that is an immediate function of the uncertainty and unrepresentatibility of the future.


Hansen, Mark B. N. Feed-Forward: On the Future of Twenty-First-Century Media. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2014.

Stiegler, Bernard. Technics and Time, Vol. 3: Cinematic Time and the Question of Malaise. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2010.

Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and Reality: An Essay on Cosmology. New York: The Free Press, 1978.

Author Bio:

Mark Hansen teaches in the Literature Program and in Media Arts & Sciences at Duke University. He is author of Embodying Technesis: Technology Beyond Writing, New Philosophy for New Media, and Bodies in Code, and has co-edited The Cambridge Companion to Merleau-Ponty, Emergence and Embodiment: New Essays on Second-Order Systems Theory, and Critical Terms for Media Studies. His book Feed-Forward: the Future of 21st Century Media will be published by Chicago in Fall 2014.