Author: IVC Author

Apis Mellifera: Towards an Ecoaesthetics of Stillness

By Michał Krawczyk Humanity became the major geo-shifting force on the planet. The current epoch of the Anthropocene sadly affirms our disrupting engagement with the more-than-human world.1 The rates of endangerment among mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects, are overwhelming. Scientists have declared that we are living through the sixth mass extinction, although this piece of news is mostly unheard and unnoticed in our daily lives. Extinction as the backdrop to human life.2 A slow violence occurring “gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all”.3 Among the multitudes of agents enmeshed with us in multispecies relations, the position of Apis Mellifera, the honeybee, is instead highly visible. The honeybee is meaningful to us because our food production system is significantly dependent on their ecosystemic service of pollination. All bees belong to the order of Hymenoptera – ‘veil winged’ insects – which includes around 100,000 species, of which 25,000 are bee species. The social bees, …

A game of guess who that uses police facial composites

Guess who did the crime?: The Facial Composite Game

By Eliseo Ortiz (University of Colorado Boulder) In 1878, British psychologist Francis Galton wrote about the significance of photography in policing and incarcerating populations. Together with the famous jailer Edmund Du Cane, Galton investigated criminal behavior patterns by comparing the photographs of thousands of imprisoned inmates. Using eugenics as a guiding force to classify social behaviors, Galton developed several categories of criminals based solely on their physical features. Early on, this experiment consolidated a racist discourse fostered by the alleged truthfulness of photography. In the same way that the practice of phrenology called for measuring people’s skulls to determine mental traits and social behaviors, Galton superimposed series of photographs in order to find common physical patterns in criminals and concluded that “if criminals are found to have certain special features,” then “certain personal peculiarities distinguish those who commit certain classes of crime” as well.1 Galton inaugurated this approach back in 1878. Yet today, we are still experiencing the residue of a much more internalized racist discourse that justifies the persecution and systematic mass incarceration of …

Black Futurities: Shape-Shifting beyond the Limits of the Human

by Hazel V. Carby Please follow each link to images, videos or sound as they occur because they are integral to the narrative. They thought they were tasting the future (which for some peopletasted like cardboard and for other people tasted like sugar).—Alexis Pauline Gumbs1 For the Africans who lived through the experience of deportation to the Americas, confronting the unknown with neither preparation nor challenge was no doubt petrifying. —Édouard Glissant2 Accumulation She was dismayed when she realized that what she wanted to imagine, what she was struggling to bring into being, now seemed beyond her reach. Was it improbable or impossible? What could she dream in a present of imminent environmental catastrophe? How could she sculpt the contours of a future when the future, any future, had been foreclosed? She read widely and absorbed what she read, which erased the last few misconceptions to which she clung. She thought she had rid her home of plastic only to find that microplastics rained down from the sky. She kept chemicals away from her house …

What’s Haunting Black Feminism?

by Alanna Prince and Alisa V. Prince Two Black Feminists Go For A Walk On a Wednesday afternoon, we walked down Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, our hometown. We saw the center aisle of the street lined with older white people holding signs for Black Lives Matter and cheering each other on. Most cars passing by were honking. The sensation that we felt while passing by this scene is best characterized as when “Happy Birthday” is being sung to you, perhaps by people you don’t know very well. It’s directed at you but you just sort of wait it out awkwardly, unsure what to do with yourself until it’s over. Smile? Almost through the song and dance, a white woman walking toward us on the sidewalk stopped to share in the BLM hurrah with her peers. But moments after, as she approached us, she swiftly put her head down and ignored our hello. This is not atypical. It is a classic and frequent real life demonstration of the character of many white liberals. Their BLM fanfare …

Athazagoraphilia: On the End(s) of Dreaming

By Jerome P. Dent, Jr. In the introductory chapter of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, entitled “When History Sleeps,” scholar and activist Robin D.G. Kelley ties his own political engagement with his mother’s “dream of a new world,” an inherited belief “that the map to a new world is in the imagination.”1 In the remainder of the text, Kelley delves into the various political and cultural manifestations of this call to map out a social-political paradigm through the conscious act of imagining—a “nowhere” or “different future.”2 Thinking through what can be called the unconscious of this act of imagining and the dreamwork that is subsequently produced, I reconsider the consequences of this production.3 What if, as Anthony Paul Farley states, the production of the dream also “does the mental work that keeps the structure from falling apart?”4 Said another way, what if an end of dreamwork is to keep the dreamers dreaming? Though this may seem to effect a call to end the dreaming, it is rather a call to sit with that which …

Get Down: Funk, Movement, and the End of the Great Migrations

By Patrick Sullivan Funk is neither an essence nor a Black metaphysics but rather should be seen as a complex musical and aesthetic form that was created by Black artists to respond to and mediate Black experience at the end of the Great Migrations (1916-1970). Beginning in the early twentieth century and lasting through the postwar period, waves of migrating Black people left the South to urban centers of the North and West Coast, fleeing racism and pursuing economic opportunities. Their movement changed the demographic landscape of the United States. By the 1960s, this social movement began to wane. The promises of mobility were short lived. Black Americans who had come to northern and western cities faced racist economic structures: White flight, deindustrialization, limited community and educational resources, and the decimation of urban neighborhoods through expansion of the highway system. The decade’s series of riots index the social and economic disparity that Black Americans endured. Cities that once offered dreams of freedom became nightmares of social constraint. The end of the Great Migrations embodies a …

Studying With Hazel Carby

By Heather V. Vermeulen October 27, 2019 Dear Hazel, I’ve decided to write you a letter. When I think about being your student, I think first of our conversations—in office hours, over coffee, via email—so this makes sense to me as a form.1 You are not one for nostalgia, let alone adulation. When I read the proposed title of this special issue, my reaction was I wonder what Hazel will think about it. Specifically, I imagined you taking issue with “currency.” To my mind, that word most immediately evokes financial transactions and, in the context of academia, the commodification, marketing, and compelled speeding-up of intellectual labor. It conjures a sense of urgency, or a potentially-profitable crisis, something upon which institutions might capitalize. I thought of Barbara Christian’s “The Race for Theory.”2 (An obsolete definition of “currency” is: “Fluency; readiness of utterance; easiness of pronunciation.”3) It struck me that your work has never been current, if “current” means popular and of-the-moment—symptomatic of the times, as opposed to diagnostic, prescient, and seeking alternative futures. If I had …

Black Studies in Haudenosaunee Country

By Brianna Theobald Featured Image: Two young Mexican-American protesters at the 2020 Indigenous People’s Day rally at the Seneca town of Canawaugus. Photograph courtesy of Michael Leroy Oberg. In January 2019, the University of Rochester hosted a “Black Studies Now” roundtable, in which faculty members, joined by the distinguished feminist scholar Hazel Carby, assessed the current state of Black Studies at UR and imagined its future. The University of Rochester is located on the ancestral homelands of the Seneca nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy; today, the university sits within a few hours of multiple Indian reservations. Carby alluded to this geography—and the exigencies of place—when she emphasized the importance of thinking through issues around indigeneity as we chart the future of Black Studies. What does it mean to think through issues of indigeneity? What does the concept of indigeneity offer Black Studies? We might begin with a definition. In colloquial terms, indigeneity generally refers to the status of being original—or native—to a particular place. International organizations have added greater specificity, even as they typically avoid …

The National Archives

By Hazel V. Carby Featured image: Windrush Stories exhibition at the British Library, 2018. Photo courtesy of Leon van Kemenade. I dressed conservatively; I did not appear to be a disruptive or unruly researcher. I was indistinguishable from the others who arrived at the National Archives early in the morning and who stood, patiently, waiting for the doors to open while swans, graceful in their every movement, nuzzled the weeds underwater. As they raised their long necks and droplets of water rolled on the surface of feather, I became aware of my own poor posture and straightened my spine. We who left late in the evening passed through doors that rapidly closed behind us, and did not notice swans. We marched together to and from the Kew Gardens Tube station everyday carrying computers and clutching umbrellas, too intent on our work to acknowledge each other with more than a brief incline of the head and half-smile. After leaving the locker room and climbing the stairs, all similarity with my fellow travelers ceased: they seem to parse the same historical manuscripts …

Image of the Playsaurus, Clicker Heroes 2014 video game.

Wait Wait… Don’t Play Me: The Clicker Game Genre and Configuring Everyday Temporalities

By Oscar Moralde “We do not say that we have learnt, and that anything is made new or beautiful by mere lapses of time; for we regard time itself as destroying rather than producing, for what is counted in time is movement, and movement dislodges whatever it affects from its present state.”1 “The Time Machine brings cookies from the past, before they were even eaten.”2 Game genre, duration, and the flow of the everyday Video game aesthetics extend beyond the sights and sounds encoded into datasets for electronic processing into the audiovisual worlds of player experience. They even extend beyond the feel and feelings produced by the cybernetic intersubjective assemblage of player and game at the threshold of the interface, which has become an important site of inquiry for game studies scholars.3 Game aesthetics are strongly situated aesthetics: spatial and temporal contexts not only shape the meanings that players take away from gameplay experience, but they also determine the form and types of experience that unfold in play. For example, in Hamlet on the Holodeck, …

Untitled Dating Sim & Boy’s Curse/Boy’s Blessing

By Nilson Carroll Using game genre as metaphor, I put a digital avatar of myself in a series of vulnerable positions for Untitled Dating Sim. This work considers the abstractions of human bodies in games as more than just a means to score points through (a patriarchal notion). Players follow the logic of visual novels to create the possibility for love/connection rather than an exchange between player and game aestheticized by violence. Video games are made up of designed exchanges between player and game. It is up to the game creator to assign these exchanges moralities, in-game values, and meanings, to give them flavor, inject them with violence, cleverness, primordial energy. By their nature, visual novels are designed to be quieter and more contemplative compared to games in other genres, dealing more with relationships between characters than centering around violent action sequences. Stemming from visual novels is the niche Japanese genre of dating sims, which vary from the playfully absurd to the pornographacation of characters of all genders and ages1. Inspired by dating sims, I …

Animals

Reviewed by Katie Lawson, Curatorial Assistant at Toronto Biennial of Art Filipa Ramos, ed. Animals. Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016. 240 pages. Edited by Filipa Ramos, Animals (2016) emerges out of the prolific Documents of Contemporary Art series co-published by Whitechapel Gallery and MIT Press since 2006, an endeavor which has yielded 45 volumes, each tackling a particular theme, practice or concern. This particular iteration takes as its point of departure the long-standing inclusion of animals in visual art through time and across cultures, but moves beyond the mere representation of animals in order to look carefully at the rising interest to consider them in the development of new methodologies, modes of artistic production, and perhaps most importantly, ways of being in the world. Cats and dogs; slugs and cephaloids; bats and other unidentified creatures – these represent a fraction of the non-human others we encounter throughout the contributions to the volume. Ramos is a Lisbon-born writer, educator and curator whose current role as Editor in Chief of art-agenda and previous …

Amour and Love : On the Invention of the Concept of Love in Cinema

Written by Nava Dushi (Lynn University) and Igor Rodin (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) Preface “Then what is involved in love?” asks Jacques Lacan.1 We return to and begin with Love. The infatuation of the moving image with Love. From Thomas Edison’s eighteen seconds of frontal bodily affection of The Kiss (1896), to its sacrifice in Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942), disintegration in Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt (1963), spiritualization in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), or desiring in Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution (2007). With Michael Haneke’s Amour (2012) and Gaspar Noé’s Love (2015) we encounter the question and impossibility of its cinematic rendering — a short-circuit that interrogates and circumvents cinema’s persistent impulse for imaginary abstraction, where every primal fantasy is eventually subjugated to the metonymy of language. Thus, rather than approach the films on the level of their purported meaning, we propose a reading that appeals to what the films do, the way they work, perform, function, and inhabit the representational field. That is, rather than approach Amour and Love on the basis of their negative difference, we would like to frame our discussion …

Contributors / Issue 29: Beyond Love

Laurel Ahnert is a lecturer in the School of Film, Media & Theatre at Georgia State University. She researches ethical questions raised by global documentary films and online media using phenomenology as her philosophical lens. Her work has appeared in journals such as Social Text and New Review of Film & Television Studies. Tiffany E. Barber is a scholar, curator, and writer of twentieth and twenty-first century visual art, new media, and performance. Her work focuses on artists of the black diaspora working in the United States and the broader Atlantic world. She is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Delaware. Loren Britton is an artist and curator based in between Berlin, Germany and New York, USA. Britton’s work explores the transformation of form via linguistic devices. Britton’s work is in relationship to the non-binary body and seeks to reimagine the utopian possibilities of language. Britton has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at Boston University, Boston, MA, USA; Scott Charmin Gallery, Houston, TX, USA; LTD Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Vanity Projects, Miami, FL, USA; Field Projects, New …

Us, THEM, and High-Risk Dancing

By Tiffany E. Barber In darkness, a live, punk-influenced sound score saturates a converted sixty-nine-seat black box theater in New York’s Lower East Side. The source: electric guitarist Chris Cochrane positioned upstage right.1 Upstage left, a spotlight illuminates two young male dancers from above. One sits in a chair and the other kneels, dressing bandages on the first dancer’s right knee. They wear cool-colored tank tops, loose-fitting khaki pants, and sneakers. Writer Dennis Cooper recites a text in an uninflected monotone alongside the dancers’ initial movements, cuing the piece’s sociopolitical implications: I saw them once. I don’t know when, or who they were because they were too far away. But I remember things, like what they wore, which wasn’t anything special—pants, shirts, regular colors—stuff I’ve seen thousands of times since. I wanted them to know something. I cupped my hands around my mouth and thought about yelling out. But they wouldn’t have heard me. Besides, I didn’t belong there.2 This opening scene sets the stage for Ishmael Houston-Jones’s THEM, an improvised composition at the intersection …

‘Making things glow with their own light’: Love, Documentary Witness and the Endless Search in Nostalgia for the Light

By Laurel Ahnert   The luster and gleam of the stone, though itself apparently glowing only by the grace of the sun, first bring to radiance the light of the day, the breadth of the sky, the darkness of the night. The temple’s firm towering makes visible the invisible space of air. —Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”   Transparence means experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself, of things being what they are […] What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more. —Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation and Other Essays   Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light (2010) begins with a black screen and the sound of metal gliding against metal. A series of close-ups show the internal machinations of a large interstellar telescope, which creaks and groans as it rotates slowly before banging loudly into place. The camera looks up at the high, domed ceiling of the observatory. Two sliding doors scrape open to reveal a large …

Marija + Toma

By Divlja Kruška/Wild Pear Arts Marija and Toma are a couple in their 60s who had been married for just over a year at the time of shooting. Both of them have had several previous spouses, but now they are together they have a strong desire to show off and share the exuberant affection they feel for one another with the people they hold dear. So it was that we were introduced to them while carrying out research for various on-going visual anthropology projects in Eastern Serbia, and they immediately invited us to join the lunch they were hosting to celebrate their 15-month wedding anniversary. In addition to their warmth and friendliness, we were keen to accept so that we could see the “Bird” monument that Toma had built for his village using money he had earned while working abroad. The monument actually turned out to be more of a village square that people could use for social events, such as the anniversary party in question. We envisaged shooting materials to use as part of an …

Dear Dawn

Featured image: Easter Queen, 11.5X13cm, 2017 By Loren Britton   Dear Dawn, I hope this finds you well. I’m writing to tell you that I love you. We haven’t met yet but when you told me you loved me, in your personal ad. Where you told anyone who read it that you loved them. I wanted to write you back:                                                      Dear Dawn,                                                                        I love you. That’s all.                                                                                               …

Still from: Love in the pixels: A visual autoethnography of restoration

Love in the pixels: A visual auto-ethnography of restoration

By Moira O’Keeffe “I went to the photographer’s show as to a police investigation, to learn at last what I no longer knew about myself.” – Roland Barthes.1 After an estrangement of nearly forty years, I have recently reconnected with my late father’s extended family. This video is the first step in an exploration of this process through visual autoethnography. I have been immersing myself in the large photographic archive of my equally large family, working with hundreds of family slides and photographs. I digitize slides, removing the visual remnants of dust, fingerprints, and the wear and tear of years gone by. I edit and tag and save metadata to the files I create. Along the way, I engage in a sort of personal photo-elicitation—are memories stored in these images? Can I access them?  What do the photographs mean to me? Where am I pricked by Barthes’ punctum? The photographs both represent and trigger memories; they also challenge and sometimes fully contradict the things that I think I know. Further, they offer the opportunity to …

The Networked Recluse: The Connected World of Emily Dickinson

Reviewed by Sarah Kinniburgh, College of William and Mary Colin Bailey, Michael Kelly, Carolyn Vega, Marta Werner, Susan Howe. The Networked Recluse: The Connected World of Emily Dickinson. Amherst, Massachusetts: Amherst College Press, 2017. 185 pp.  In The Networked Recluse: The Connected World of Emily Dickinson (Amherst College Press, 2017), a team of leading Dickinson scholars, curators, and poets takes up the task of contextualizing a figure in the American literary canon that has historically been understood as one-dimensional. In the popular imaginary, Dickinson is “lady in white” at best, total outcast at worst. A welcome complication of this portrait, Networked Recluse constructs Dickinson’s life as uniquely configured through her family and her broader circuits of correspondence in the town of Amherst in the years around the American Civil War. The volume was designed to accompany I’m Nobody! Who are You? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson, an exhibit which ran from January through May 2017 at the Morgan Library & Museum, and, as such, benefits from the combined expertise and care of Mike Kelly, …

The Epicene Gaze: Rewriting the Subject Object Relationship in Siri Hustvedt’s “What I Loved”

By Harvey Wiltshire, University College London “The beautiful woman, […] was being looked at by someone outside the painting, a spectator who seemed to be standing just where I was standing” -Siri Hustvedt, What I Loved1  Attesting to the need for a reappraisal of the way that literature mishandles the visual object, Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved—a novel of love, loss, and art— consciously acknowledges the looking subject in an attempt to rewrite traditionally gendered ways of seeing. Scopophilic and voyeuristic in nature, the looking subject subdues the looked at object, subjugating it and compounding its “otherness.” John Berger argues that, like a woman, the visual is “born within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men” and it is from this space that What I Loved aims to free the object and in turn our way of looking.2 However, whilst Hustvedt’s novel makes significant inroads into a reappraisal of the act of seeing, I want to suggest that What I Loved ultimately conforms to the very conventions that it rejects and, to …

Organic Cinema: Film, Architecture, and the Work of Béla Tarr

Reviewed by Anthony Ballas, University of Colorado at Denver Thorsten Botz-Bornstein. Organic Cinema: Film, Architecture, and the Work of Béla Tarr. New York: Berghahn Books, 2017. 221 pages. Thorsten Botz-Bornstein’s Organic Cinema: Film, Architecture, and the Work of Béla Tarr features an impressive multidisciplinary examination of the concept of organicism through a complex yet sophisticated web of philosophical, aesthetic, architectural and cinematic examples. For Botz-Bornstein, organicism grates up against mainstream or otherwise popular philosophical and aesthetic theories, offering a divergent path away from the post-structuralist, deconstructive, leftist ideologiekritik, as well as the “competition of different universalisms,” ranging from Islamic fundamentalism to western capitalism, which dominate our contemporary social and aesthetic paradigm (2-3). Filmmakers such as Béla Tarr and Andrei Tarkovsky, architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Imre Makovecz, writers such as Lázló Krasznahorkai and philosophers such as Gilles Deleuze and Henri Bergson, are the exemplars of organic thinking according to Botz-Bornstein, who highlights their theoretical and aesthetic import as advocates of contemplation, slowness, and ultimately the cosmic thought linking the relative to the universal, or, …

Crisis of Invasion: Militaristic Language and the Legitimization of Identity and Place

By Emma Lansdowne On May 9, 2016, the alt-right news site Bugout News published an article entitled “It’s OFFICIAL: We’re Being Invaded By Illegal Immigrants And What Obama Has Reaped, We Will Sow,” in which the author declares that millions of Americans are “sick and tired of being forced to witness and accept a massive invasion of third-world poor into their country.”1This message of crisis, writes J. Dougherty under the web name Usafeaturesmedia, is a direct reflection of and signals agreement with the anti-immigration message put forth during the presidential campaign by current U.S. President, Donald J. Trump. 2 Trump’s hard-line campaign proposals on border control became a rallying cry for right-wing Americans who remain suspicious of asylum-seekers and view illegal immigration as one of the greatest threats not simply to national security, but to nationhood itself. Conservative journalist Pat Buchanan neatly summarized this position on the public affairs program The McLaughlin Group in early January 2016 when he warned that “if the invasion of Europe and the United States are not stopped, these — the …

Visibility in Crisis: Configuring Transparency and Opacity in We Are Here’s Political Activism

by Christian Sancto Fig. 1. We Are Here, Homeless on the street in the cold and rain after the eviction of camp Osdorp, Autumn 2012. Courtesy of the artists’ collective. We Are Here is the vehicle by which a group of Amsterdam-based refugees attempts to make visible the conditions of crisis that envelope its members’ lives. The group is comprised of refugees whose applications for asylum in the Netherlands are, for various reasons, no longer in process. Although they remain living in the Netherlands, they have no means of income, since they are not permitted to work. At the same time the government does not provide them with housing, forcing the group to move from squatted building to squatted building, or simply to live on the streets. The refugees formed We Are Here in September 2012 to provide them with a means for having their existence in the Netherlands recognized through collective action. The group’s website recounts that it emerged from an impetus to “make themselves visible” by “start[ing] a demonstration.”1 As interest in the group …

“La Bola de Cristal”: Puerto Rican Meme Production in Times of Austerity and Crisis

by Caroline Gil-Rodríguez Sky is a sea of darkness, when there is no sun Sky is a sea of darkness, When there is no sun to light the way When there is no sun to light the way There is no day There is no day There’s only darkness Eternal Sea of Darkness. — Sun Ra Puerto Rico, a US Territory with a population of 3.474 million people, that is neither a sovereign nation nor state of the union. The island is currently in the midst of an ongoing financial crisis with an accrued debt of over $73 billion and $49 billion in pension obligations, the largest economic insolvency in the history of the United States. The fiscal crisis has seen an abundance of meme trends that unveil the frustrations of the citizenry after decades of corruption, react to the recent imposition of a Fiscal Control Board, and draw on the island’s thorny history as a colony of the U.S. Who else, but a godless Richard Dawkins to coin the term “meme”? The evolutionary biologist and …

Your father was born 100 years old, and so was the Nakba ابوكي خلق عمره ١٠٠ سنة، زي النكبة

Artwork by Razan AlSalah, 2017. Oum Ameen, a Palestinian grandmother, returns to her hometown Haifa through Google Maps Streetview, today, the only way she can see Palestine. Although Streetview came out of necessity – Palestinian refugees like my grandma and myself are denied entry to their homeland – I quickly understood that Streetview inherently poses the question of our (dis)connection to place. The film uses glitch poetics and Streetview’s aesthetics of erasure to tell a personal story as well as a universal disposition of loss, injustice and distance.

Emergency Blankets

Artwork by Anna Haglin, 2016. Fig. 1. I require assistance, 2016, hot-stamped foil on emergency blanket, 84” x 52” I want to protect us. My work explores the complexity of this instinct as a contemporary woman and visual artist. I put my personal gestures of care on display to exemplify empathy and examine moments when my emphatic response is futile. I question the anthropocentric systems that have led to environmental and humanitarian instability by symbolically mismatching material and function. In doing so, I provoke situational paradox, asking: how well anything or anyone can protect us from ourselves? The utilitarian objects I construct are hopeful tools for survival and recovery.  My emergency blanket series is an example of such tools. They are printed with both traditional wool blanket patterns and symbols from the international maritime signal code, thus addressing crises of communication, identity, and natural disaster.  Though flashy and graphic, at the end of the day, they are blankets—caretaking objects meant to help those in need. The relief they provide is only temporary.

Socialist Senses: Film, Feeling, and The Soviet Subject, 1917-1940

Reviewed by Raymond DeLuca, Harvard University. Emma Widdis. Socialist Senses: Film, Feeling, and The Soviet Subject, 1917-1940. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2017. 407 pp.  In Socialist Senses: Film, Feeling, and the Soviet Subject, 1917-1940, Emma Widdis offers a groundbreaking history of early Soviet cinema. The October Revolution, Widdis argues, inspired a radical, albeit undertheorized, cultural project of transforming human sensory experience. Cinema, moreover, became an important medium of this sensorial revolution. The moving image could simultaneously depict reimagined sensory encounters onscreen and, what’s more, could emotionally, psychologically, and physically make itself felt on its spectators. Film, then, helped transform Soviet citizens’ relationship to their material world. Drawing on a wide array of films, Widdis reveals how this sensory project, beginning with the 1920s avant-garde, evolved from one of transforming external sensations (i.e., touch, sight) to one of reeducating internal sensations (i.e., emotions, feelings) under the Stalinist doctrine of Socialist Realism. In Chapter One, “Avant-Garde Sensations,” Widdis recounts the origins of the Soviet avant-garde’s preoccupation with the material and textural qualities of artistic production, what, in …

Horrific Flesh, Holy Theater

by Jenn Cole, PhD. Do away with the actor and you do away with the means by which a debased stage-realism is produced and flourishes. No longer would there be a living figure to confuse us into connecting actuality and art; no longer a living figure in which the weakness and tremors of the flesh were perceptible. – Edward Gordon Craig, from “The Actor and the Über- Marionette” When I was ten, I found a religious pamphlet in my stepmother’s purse, which I obsessively read and re-read. It featured a story about an eighth-century Basilian monk who, saying mass, was overcome with doubt about the transformation of the communion elements of bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.  As this monk began to doubt, the bread and wine turned to real flesh and real blood before his eyes. The pamphlet spent the rest of its brief pages describing the scientific testing that had been done to prove that the fleshy membrane and coagulated blood, conserved in an ornate monstrance, were, in …

The Branded Future: Brand-Placement Implications for Present Viewers and Future Narratives

by Barbara D. Ferguson In Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Minority Report, set in the year 2053, the protagonist John Anderton is wrongly accused of murder and forced to flee his own law-enforcement colleagues. In a subway station where commuter crowds should offer anonymity, the advertisements lining every wall become dangers Anderton hadn’t considered. Floor-to-ceiling billboards for Lexus, American Express and Guinness scroll and flash with animated life, and, because retinal-scan identification has been integrated into marketing, the merest glance at an advertisement triggers a personalized appeal. As he enters the station, a woman’s voice assures him on behalf of Lexus, “The road you’re on, John Anderton, is the one less travelled.”1 “John Anderton,” hails a genial voice a few hurried steps further, “you could use a Guinness right about now!” The faster Anderton moves through the corridor, the more his name resounds from all directions in a cacophony of goods and services offered.2 The film’s plot progresses amid a sea of branding, with Lexus receiving the most prominent screen-time and -space, but with Aquafina, Nokia, Bulgari, …