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Visual Culture Spring Workshop

Friday, March 29, 2024
9:00am to 7:00pm
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Dabney Hall 110 (Treasure Room)
Anthropocene Media Working Group Workshop

Since cinema's emergence in the late nineteenth century, moving image technologies have offered increasingly powerful and immersive virtual worlds through which humans may encounter and reimagine the natural and built environments. More than merely imagined or illusionary, these new media worlds depend on vast networks of resource extraction with far-reaching material and social consequences. Media environments are always material environments first. This public symposium and working group meeting will explore the entangled histories of virtual and material worldmaking that define "Anthropocene media" and asks what historical and conceptual knowledge may contribute to how we understand the climate crisis and its mediated past and present.

PLEASE REGISTER HERE by Tuesday, March 19, 2024

9:00am - Welcome + Introductions
Brian Jacobson, Caltech

9:15am - 10:45am
Deep Tissue/Deep History
Jennifer Fay, Vanderbilt University

Ornamental Time
Weihong Bao, University of California, Berkeley

11:00am - 12:30pm
Self-Portraits of Irradiated Coral: Waste and Radiation Ecologies in the Pacific
Yuriko Furuhata, McGill University

Stray Exposure (Without Measure)
James Leo Cahill, University of Toronto

12:30pm - 2:00pm — Lunch for Presenters and Registered Attendees

2:00pm - 3:30pm
Chromatic Apparitions: Coal, Colour, and the Environments of the Film Factory
Katerina Korola, University of Minnesota

Plantation Vision: Photography, Industrial Control, and New Techniques of the Body
Debashree Mukherjee, Columbia University

4:00pm - 5:30pm
Extractive Coordinates: A Cinema of Trees and Cars
Jennifer Lynn Peterson, Woodbury University

Prospect, Mine, Extract, Refine
Brian Jacobson, Caltech

5:30pm - 6:00pm — Closing Discussion

6:00pm - 7:00pm — Reception

Weihong Bao is Pamela P. Fong and Family Distinguished Chair in China Studies and an Associate Professor of Film and Media, UC Berkeley. She has published widely on comparative media history and theory, media and environment, early cinema, war and modernity, affect theory, propaganda theory and practice. Her book Fiery Cinema: The Emergence of an Affective Medium in China, 1915-1945 (University of Minnesota Press, 2015) received an honorable mention for the Modernist Studies Association Best Book Prize in 2016. Her more recent work explores the relationship between medium and environment, by engaging intellectual history, political theory, cultural anthropology, and comparative media theory. On this subject she has co-edited two special issues on "Media/Climates" (Representations) and "Medium/Environment" (Critical Inquiry); she is also completing a new book, "Set Design Thinking and The Art of Environment."

James Leo Cahill is an associate professor and Director of the Cinema Studies Institute. He is author of Zoological Surrealism: The Nonhuman Cinema of Jean Painlevé (Minnesota, 2019), co-editor of Cinema of Exploration: Essays in an Adventurous Film Practice (AFI/Routledge, 2021), section editor of A Companion to Documentary Film History (Wiley Blackwell, 2021), general editor of Discourse, and co-editor of the "Media Climates" special issue of Representations. He is working on two book projects: Neither Dog Nor Master: Essays in Stray Thinking and On The Plurality of Worlds.

Jennifer Fay is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Cinema & Media Arts, Professor of English and German Studies, and Chair of the Department of English at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of Theaters of Occupation: Hollywood and the Reeducation of Postwar Germany (2008), Inhospitable World: Cinema in the Time of the Anthropocene (2018) and co-author of Film Noir: Hard-Boiled Modernity and the Cultures of Globalization. She has recently published articles in Screen, Representations, Critical Inquiry, and New German Critique.

Yuriko Furuhata is Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar of Cinema and Media History in the Department of East Asian Studies at McGill University. Her first book, Cinema of Actuality: Japanese Avant-Garde Filmmaking in the Season of Image Politics (Duke University Press, 2013), won the Best First Book Award from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies. Her second book, Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control (Duke University Press, 2022) explores the geopolitical conditions underpinning environmental art, weather control, digital computing, and cybernetic architecture in Japan and the United States. She is currently completing a new book project, titled Visual Grammars of Deep Time: Archipelagic Archives of the Anthropocene, which examines sets of scientific atlases, photographs, and films of fossils, clouds, snow crystals, and corals in relation to the settler colonial histories of geosciences in Japan, the Pacific, and North America.

Brian Jacobson (organizer) is Professor of Visual Culture at Caltech and director of the Caltech-Huntington Program in Visual Culture. He is the author of Studios Before the System: Architecture, Technology, and the Emergence of Cinematic Space (Columbia, 2015) and The Cinema of Extractions (Columbia, forthcoming). He is the editor of In the Studio: Visual Creation and Its Material Environments (California, 2020), winner of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies award for Best Edited Collection and the Limina Prize for Best International Cinema Studies Book, and co-edited "Media Climates," a special issue of Representations.

Katerina Korola is an art historian and media scholar whose research explores the history of photography and film through an ecological lens. She holds a joint-PhD in Art History and Cinema & Media Studies from the University of Chicago and is currently Assistant Professor of German Studies at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, where she is working on her first book, Picturing the Air: Photography and the Industrial Atmosphere. Her research has appeared in the Journal of Visual Culture, Representations, Photographica, and Transbordeur.

Debashree Mukherjee is Associate Professor of film and media in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) at Columbia University. She is author of Bombay Hustle: Making Movies in a Colonial City (2020), which approaches film history as an ecology of material practices and practitioners. Her second book project, Tropical Machines: Extraction in the Age of Emancipation, develops a media history of South Asian indentured migration and plantation capitalism. Debashree edits the peer-reviewed journal BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies and has published in journals such as Film History, Feminist Media Histories, and Representations. Her latest publication is the edited anthology, Bombay Talkies: An Unseen History of Indian Cinema, based on an unprecedented photographic archive collated by a German cinematographer who emigrated to India in the 1930s (Ed. Mukherjee, Mapin & Alkazi Foundation, 2023). In a previous life Debashree worked in Mumbai's film and TV industries as an assistant director, writer, and cameraperson, and remains committed to industry-academy-public interfaces through exhibitions, curation, and digital humanities open-access projects.

Jennifer Lynn Peterson is Professor of Media Studies at Woodbury University in Los Angeles. She is the author of Education in the School of Dreams: Travelogues and Early Nonfiction Film (Duke University Press, 2013). Her scholarship has been published in journals such as Representations, JCMS, Feminist Media Histories, Camera Obscura, Moving Image, and in numerous edited volumes. She has published film, art, and book reviews in Texte zur Kunst, Millennium Film Journal, Film Quarterly, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and She is completing work on her second book, under contract with Columbia University Press, which examines the ecological significance of Hollywood and nontheatrical films shot on location in the 1920s-40s.

For more information, please contact Mary Martin by phone at 626-395-4571 or by email at [email protected].