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I was alerted to this during a soundwalk around the campus of the university led by Rupert Cox. In the course of the walk, Rupert pointed out the Ducie Arms. Friedrich Engels was once a patron of this pub it may even have been his favourite pub. The son of a wealthy German textile industrialist, Engels was sent by his father to Manchester in to learn the family trade. He remained there till It was during this period that he wrote the book that would later be translated into English under the title The Condition of the Working Class in England in It documented the penury, mortality, insalubrity and sensory deprivity of the life of the labourer, based on personal observation and archival research.

They finally met face-to-face in Paris in November , 8 shortly after Marx published his own blistering critique of the alienation of the senses under industrial capitalism — namely, the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of The senses of the bourgeoisie were also affected by the scourge of capitalism, since the bourgeoisie had to forego sensory enjoyment the dance hall, the theatre in the interests of capital accumulation see If a revolt was to come, it would come from the senses.

In the work of Marx and Engels, sensory critique is the beginning of social critique. The senses are critical faculties, as well as aesthetic faculties — critical to and of the experience of class oppression and exploitation, critical of ideology e. That era is now gone, but Greenhalgh revives it with the aid of archival photographs, and through interviews with former textile workers. They remember the sensory conditions of work in the mills. Many of the films screened at Beyond Text? Two in particular stood out for me: Black Sun and Christmas with Wawa. His eyes were sprayed with paint thinner by one of his assailants.

In the voiceover to the film, de Montalembert relates his descent into darkness in the hours immediately after the attack, and then recounts the long, arduous process of rehabilitating his senses that followed.

Sensing Cultures

In a supreme act of defiance, within 18 months of the attack, he went on a solo journey to Bali and other parts East. This remarkable journey of discovery, both inner and outer, was partly a quest for a lost lover, and partly to feed his newly attuned senses with the sensations they craved see de Montalembert Tarn does a truly stunning job evoking the sensory world de Montalembert creates for himself and for the viewer through the use of grimy yellow filters, computer graphics and continuously shifting camera angles.

The emphasis is on the interplay of these modalities, which leaves it up to the viewer to forge some kind of sense out of them. Black Sun is a testimony to the art of seeing without light. It is what Classen ch. Christmas with Wawa by Jennifer Deger is, on its surface, the homiest of home videos. When I boarded the plane from Montreal to Manchester, one of the questions I had at the back of my mind was whether Tim Ingold would be at the conference, and if so, what effect his critique of the anthropology of the senses in The Perception of the Environment would have on the gathering.

Murray Schafer, and the inspiration behind many fine works of sensori-social analysis e.

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It therefore behooves us to examine his contrarian position. The idea of mediation is foreign to Ingold, hence his dismissal of the whole field of visual cultural studies see Ingold in Ingold and Howes Significantly, Ingold has nothing to say about colour compare Taussig ; Classen though he has written extensively about line Ingold b. This reflects the arch-formalism and tendency towards abstraction of his approach.

There is some question as to whether lines are perceived at all in some cultures, such as the Trobriands Lee , but Ingold ignores this issue. None of these instantiations of the materiality of light and vision in different traditions matter to Ingold materiality being another of his bugbears. Only in the most abstract and uninteresting sense is this proposition true. What is more, while the senses often work in concert, they may also conflict, as in the case of a stick in water which looks crooked to the eye but feels straight to the touch.

The trick is to historicize it. As Max Horkheimer observed:. It is not only in clothing and appearance, in outward form and emotional make-up that men are the product of history. Even the way they see and hear is inseparable from the social life-process ….

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The facts which our senses present to us are socially preformed in two ways: through the historical character of the object perceived and through the historical character of the perceiving organ Horkheimer quoted in Levin 63 n. Following in the footsteps of his father, the great mycologist Cecil Terence Ingold, he trained as a natural scientist before turning to the social sciences, but remains a natural scientist at heart.

Two examples will help illustrate this point. To answer this question it is necessary to inquire into how the division and hierarchization of the senses intersects with and compounds the division and hierarchization of the sexes. Such was the power of this categorization that those women who challenged the sensory division of labour e.

Second, take the question: Why, during the pilgrimage to the sanctuary of the Lord of the Shiny Snow in the Peruvian Andes, do pilgrims bearing flags and holy images always lead the procession and musicians playing flutes and drums bring up the rear? Solomon elaborates on this identification of forward space with past time and hence the affirmation of tradition :. To conceive of the past as lying ahead and the future as positioned behind goes completely counter to Euroamerican constructions of space-time, and thus exposes the cultural contingency of all such associations.

This is why sensory anthropology necessarily parts ways with phenomenology. Smell is typically screened out of ethnographic films.

Cinema Studies

Every film must have a soundtrack, but no thought is given to providing a smelltrack. In some cases this is fortunate, for example, films having to do with sheep. But the absence of smell can lead to the misperception of the environment if one is not careful to compensate intellectually, particularly in the case of those cultures which attach a lot of significance to the wind and breath, such as the Ongee of the Andaman Islands.

Smell is not dispensable for the Ongee: it is the very essence of life and identity. Like the tea ceremony, it has its own paraphernalia: censer, metal tongs and chopsticks, charcoal, white ash, ash press, mica plate, etc.. The aromatic woods — which are extremely expensive and graded by taste, interestingly — are not burnt, only heated atop the mica plate so as to release their aroma. The ceremony involves the host introducing the guests to the selection of incenses he or she has chosen for the match, by circulating them, one at a time, in the censer, then mixing up the order, and circulating the censer again.

The guests write out their responses using a calligraphy set. There is a way of smelling. This action is repeated three times. This expression, like the custom, is not simply metaphorical, however. In some, it is simply a matter of discriminating and naming the scents correctly.

In another, the scents are keyed to different passages in The Tale of Gengi , a classic of Japanese literature. Most versions have to do with travel. Each incense is associated with a different place, and to smell the incense correctly is to be imaginatively transported to that place. In Japan, scents take you places, unlike in the West where they simply trigger memories the so-called Proust Effect. Smell operates outwardly instead of inwardly see further McHugh In any event, the important thing to retain from this is that fragrances can serve as an alternative medium to photographs as regards imagining distant places.

Each technology opens up some aspects of the sensory world to our attention while occluding others. This book comes with a DVD, which is well worth a look-hear. Ideally, it would also come with an assortment of objects, which one could manipulate, sniff and chew on. Every culture embodies a different mix of the senses in its subjects. The task of the anthropologist is to learn how the senses and sensations are distinguished, valued and combined on a cosmological, social and individual level.

How then to communicate this knowledge? The consolidation of visual anthropology and the recent rapprochement between art and anthropology Schneider and Wright have opened up many exciting new sensory avenues for the production and communication of such knowledge, without completely supplanting text, which continues to have its uses.

The trick, as always, is to work out the best mix. Sensory Anthropology and Critical Practice. Manchester: Manchester University Press, For the definitive version of this chapter and the full list of works cited please refer to the published version. I wish to thank the conference organizers, Rupert Cox, Andrew Irving and Chris Wright for the invitation to present a plenary address at the Beyond Text?

Bille, M. Castaing-Taylor, Lucien Transition Classen, Constance. London and New York: Routledge. Foundations for an Anthropology of the Senses. International Social Science Journal The complexity of this debate is dictated both by the nature of the video game as a layered medium intersecting discourses on technology, cultural studies, aesthetics etc.


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Most notably, the argument took the form of an opposition between traditional fields of knowledge and the definition of a new area of investigation capable of developing an autochthonous discipline dedicated to the new medium. Among the contributor to this debate, Espen Aarseth stressed the necessity to develop independent tools of study apt to address specific characteristics that risked to be underplayed in the adaptation of pre-existing theoretical models directly applied from other established fields, calling for an understanding of video games in the respect of their primary ludic function.

In particular, the opposition between the ludic character of video games and their narrative aspiration Murray, generated a debate that was fundamental to the definition of game studies as a field and its object of investigation. Whether this conflict ever took place or not Frasca, 3 , its perception somehow had an impact on the development of the field and on its disposition towards certain approaches.

On the other hand, the resistance generated within the declaration of independence of game studies only paired with the difficulty of film scholars to engage with the new medium, due both to the lack of suitable theoretical and analytical tools and to the scepticism towards its artistic potential.

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This situation resulted in the dismissal of video games from the tradition of studies on the moving image. Nevertheless, authors such as David Bolter and Richard Grusin , Lev Manovich pointed at the possibility of framing these media within a wider audiovisual tradition, tracing connections across their contents, structures and modalities capable of surpassing compartmentalised medium specific positions. On a first level, game studies call for an updated reflection on what Wolf and Perron , p. After half a century, film studies developed a constellation of theories that cover the ontological and phenomenological nature of the medium, its practices, its representative strategies, its history and historiographical value, and the politics connected to it, finally leading to question its methodological premises.

Can the cinematic theoretical corpus offer a contribution to the development of game studies? If so, what are the possible intersections between these fields? What more can we learn about video games through the lens of film studies?


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  • On a second level, we want to investigate the characteristics of these two media, their similarities and differences in terms of aesthetics, practices and production. The majority of the studies on this topic assume the narrative quality of the cinematic medium, focusing on the continuity between these media in terms of genres, tropes and iconography. This assumption is debatable and in need of renegotiation. If, on the one hand, it is true that the cinematic character of video games is often reflected by its narrative and spectacular bias, on the other hand it is possible to rethink the interplay between these two media in different ways.

    For example, by positioning video games within the larger history of spectacular media and attractions to which also cinema belongs. It is then possible to frame this medium within the tradition that connects shadow play theatre to the magic lantern and, subsequently, to early cinema and devices for amplified vision widescreen, stereoscopy. Since its birth the video game medium established a strong bond with its cinematic counterpart, defining itself in relation and often against it. Cinema has often been used to reach a wider audience, especially with the advent of home consoles, to market video games outside the niche of the arcades and capitalise on the popular culture dominating the majority of households, the one of cinema.


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    • The Extra-Terrestrial Atari, , capitalised on the fame of their cinematic counterparts to attract new audiences. Nowadays, its is not only common for video game franchises to share contents with films and other audiovisual products —franchises such as Harry Potter and The Lord Of The Rings witnessed endless iteration of adaptations, spin-offs and expansions to their universes — but narrative ecosystems became so vast to make it difficult the identification of textual relationships. Nevertheless the relationship and reciprocal influence between cinema and video games goes well beyond storylines and characters.

      Conception of space, in commercial products, is mostly tied to the idea of a camera recording the reality before it. In fact, not only are game artefacts to be looked at —we look at them while playing, but they also exist in a plethora of other spectatorial practices such as walkthrough on YouTube and live streams on Twitch— but their audiovisual codes become part of their ludic structure. Despite the unfulfilled promise of the interactive movie, titles such as Heavy Rain Quantic Dream, , and more recently the b-movie inspired Until Dawn Supermassive Games, experiment with alternative ways of control that combine interactivity and non-linearity with a cinematic drive and direction.

      Furthermore, the cinematic is to be found in a much wider variety of products and genre. Moreover, the rise of the indie market and the proliferation of tools and commercialised engines allowed the emergence of experimental works that challenge the mainstream identification with narrative models, opening new horizons of research.

      The s witnessed an increased attention towards this topic also in academic environments. Scholars such as Geoff King and Tanya Krzywinska and , Alexander Galloway and Michael Nitsche , furthered the studies on this subject exploring the ways in which video games intersect cinema in form, contents, and theories. Finally, with its fourth issue G A M E intends to discuss the place of video games in cinema. Cinematic incarnations have often been overlooked, mostly referenced with regards to their aesthetic and iconographic influence. What role do video games play at the cinema?

      Are video games contributing to the development of a new cinematic aesthetics? Is this process connected to the commercialisation of new technologies? What are the reasons behind unsuccessful cinematic adaptations of video games? Video games provide source material for TV shows and web series, becoming protagonists of transmedial serialisation. At the same time, they are made cinematic subject of both apocalyptic and nostalgic discourses. Film studies have tentatively addressed the influence of video games on cinema accounting for the ways in which film texts and viewing practices have been affected by the emergence of video games and other interactive digital media.

      From The Matrix Andy and Lana Wachowski, to Gamer Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, , video games and digital media especially VR technologies that, similarly to video games, project the user within a digital space are depicted as dangerous tools, cause of personal and social disruption, responsible for the progressive alienation and dehumanization of society.

      These apocalyptic accounts of video games on the big screen only point at the strong relationship between the two and at the need for mutual acknowledgement and reflection. To the second typology belong films such as Run Lola Run Tom Twyker, and Elephant Gus Van Sant, that reflect on the ludic medium on a formal ad structural level. Among others, scholars such as Warren Buckland , and David Bordwell pointed at the increasing complexity of movie storylines in relation to both new media and new technologies.

      This course examines contemporary diasporic voices and imaginaries within English Canadian cinema. We will thus investigate how cultural policies and institutions like the National Film Board have directly impacted multicultural screen practices and resulted in ambivalent articulations of national identity. This seminar examines contemporary forms of technological intimacy, drawing on approaches from digital media, cultural theory, feminist science and technology studies, and disability studies, among other fields. This course situates established approaches to the study of film sound within broader questions about the relationships between sound, society, and the environment central to sound studies across disciplines.

      The field of acoustic ecology is used to reframe core issues in film sound theory and to provide an interdisciplinary model for how the study of film sound can become part of larger conversations about media and the environment in the humanities. Acoustic ecology has developed a rich set of conceptual tools for thinking about the relationship between sound and human experience within specific geographical locales. In this course we explore how these tools and problems can be made equally productive for charting sonic pathways through the emerging field of ecocinema studies.

      Screenings across a range of genres, cultural contexts, and historical periods are paired with literature from film studies, cultural studies, communications, musicology, and critical geography. These texts provide an interdisciplinary environment through which to listen for the ways in which films can help us navigate the current state of environmentalist discourse, while also challenging key tenets of acoustic ecology and film sound theory alike. This course delineates the multiple lives of video and its cultural, social and political impact through infrastructures created by VHS tapes, VCD and DVD culture, and streaming and mobile platforms.

      It focuses on issues and forms distinct to each technological apparatus such as the emergence of the video nasties in the global north, local entertainment industries spurred by VCD culture in the global south, and DIY aesthetics and whatsapp videos of the digital age. Through an examination of the poetics of infrastructure, the course will map and traverse the landscape of bootlegging, piracy, local media cultures and the forensic imagination. Deploying the lens of video, the course will address the issues of media infrastructures vis-a- vis the post cinematic imagination.

      While it is critical that we debate video as a post cinematic apparatus, it is equally necessary that we place front and centre certain discussions from the global south piracy as access, localized video cultures, doctored videos and the crowd if only to comprehend infrastructural politics and poetics of the medium s. This seminar will focus on some of the major figures of what is now referred to as "Classical Film Theory". The course is addressed first and foremost to students interested in the history of film theory and the development of ideas about film from the silent period to the s.

      Classical Film Theory concerns a period in the study of the cinema that pre-dates the full-blown emergence of a discipline of films studies; one that, for the most part, precedes the development of a film studies curriculum in universities, the emergence of specialized academic journals, the rise of professional film studies associations, etc. Lectures will situate the different theories in their intellectual context. This seminar explores the formation and circulation of the category of queer of color and its relatives—such as queer diaspora and queer Indigeneity—and their significance for studying film and media.

      Of especial interest will be how queer of color audiences and mediamakers have responded to hegemonic constructions of race, gender and sexuality through practices of critical spectatorship and production. This seminar will introduce students to some key concepts in the field of postcolonial theory in relation to cinema and other media practices.