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Cross Media Seminar: Writing Theory / Writing Media

This year’s meetings for the Cross-Media Research Seminar will alternate sessions, focusing on the twin terms in our title, Writing Theory/Writing Media. Every other session, the Cross Media Research Seminar meetings will discuss the challenges that different media forms bring to bear on the question of (academic) writing and explore the different ways in which media theory, philosophy, and artists have approached the question of how to write about media. From handwriting to typewriter to AI as tools of writing; from film to television to virtual realities as objects of writing: How to use media to write? How does the linearity of writing relate to media seriality and simultaneity? How does writing intersect with considerations of genre, medium, gesture, affect, form, and history? How do different media forms change the styles, modes, and epistemologies of scholarly, critical, and experimental writing?

In alternating sessions, ASCA research fellow Prof. Eugenie Brinkema will explore four controversies in the writing of theory (whether media, literary, or cultural): Interpretation (what it is and why one might be against it); Description (its promise and limitations); Auto-theory (the turn to the ‘I’); and Collaboration (the perils and pitfalls of collective writing).

The overall 7 meetings are spread across fall 2023 and spring 2024. To earn credits (6EC) students need to join at least four of the meetings. Readings include works by: Barthes, Bellour, Berlant, Dyer, Edelman, Esme, Felski, Flusser, Hayot, Hartman, Moten, Nelson, Rankine, Sedgwick, Sontag, and others.

Fall 2023

Location: University of Amsterdam BG1 0.16

Dates/times:

  • Session 1: Sept 29: 15-18h
  • Session 2: Oct 20: 15-18h
  • Session 3: Nov 24: 15-18h
  • Session 4: Dec 15: 15-18h

Dates for spring 2024 tba.

To sign up and receive readings please email Abe Geil:  a.m.geil@uva.nl

Archive

ASCA Cross-Media Research Seminar 2022/23

Images of Abstraction: Operational Media and Experience 

With the proliferation of AI image technologies, Harun Farocki's concept from the early 2000's of the "operational image" has assumed a new significance for media theorists. Defined as a category of images that "do not represent an object but are part of an operation" (Farocki 2004: 17), this concept has recently been applied to the conversion of images into abstract data for the analysis by algorithmic processes that have no need of the sensible image as such (see e.g. Paglan, Pantenburg, Hoel). At the same time, there are a vast number of images that move in the opposite direction, converting abstract "inhuman" computational processes into images for human consumption.  

For this year's Cross-Media Seminar, we will explore this two-way relation between sensible images and abstract processes across a range of contemporary and historical media phenomena. We will take up that relation as one of the dominant interfaces between the invisible and visible today, a crucial site for examining the ways abstract social categories such as person, race, individual, type, mass, and property have been operationalized as "real abstractions" by and through computational images. On the one hand, the image still presents itself in its traditional representationalist guise by offering an experience of otherwise abstract dynamics; on the other, this experience is more and more dependent upon the massification of images and their datafied interrelations. Topics will include: theories and practices of the imperfect/degraded image as a site of formal intervention (e.g. "imperfect cinema" (Espinosa), "the poor image" (Steyerl), "glitch" (Russell, Berlant, Cubitt)); the use of computational video refereeing and image-based decision taking in televised sport; the datafication of the facial image in "deep learning" artificial neural networks (e.g. facial recognition, deep fakes, artificial faces).

In both semesters of the coming academic year, the seminar will consist of two regular seminar meetings (mostly close readings of conceptual texts) and a 2-day workshop focusing on one particular field of operational images. Students who want to earn credits (6 EC) can either participate in all meetings of one semester or join at least four meetings across the academic year.

Seminar meetings 2023: March 3, April 21; 15:00 - 18:00h | Workshop: May 25 & 26 

Contact: a.m.geil@uva.nl

Planning for the first semester:

Seminar meetings: Sep 23, Oct 21; 15-18h

Workshop: Dec 1&2; 14-18h