2014/1 – #Traces

Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 27
  • Article
    Animated maps and the power of the trace
    Fidotta, Giuseppe (2014)
    The animated map, a generally overlooked rhetorical device, is questioned throughout this essay as a meaningful and useful case for rethinking the notion of the trace in the analysis of documentary films. Drawing on the debate led by critical cartography since the 1980s the essay discusses the relation between maps, ideology, and propaganda specifically with regard to fascist documentaries made between 1939 and 1942 that are entirely composed with animated maps. Through the notion of the ‘power of the trace’ ‐ the construct warranting the perfect correspondence of image and world ‐ the essay interrogates the misleading use of animated maps in documentary as evidence, informational images, and faithful reproductions of the territory. By looking at the roles played by space, time, materiality, and narrative in animated maps I instead propose an examination of the trace, taking into account the possibilities offered to visual-oriented analysis.
  • Article
    Assembling traces, or the conservation of net art
    Dekker, Annet (2014)
    Net art is built and distributed through a complex, intricate, and interrelated system of networks that presents an assemblage of art, technology, politics, and social relations ‐ all merged and related to form a variable entity. In the last decade a discussion on how to conserve net art emerged in museums of contemporary art. Nevertheless, many net art projects from the 1990s have long disappeared ‐ their server payments lapsed, software was not kept up-to-date, or artists felt the concept was no longer appropriate in a changed context. The project mouchette.org is an exception in that the artist has kept the website up and running since it began. In this article I will show that net artworks are inherently assemblages that evolve over time. These works are distributed and ensured by networks of people; their continuation happens through multiple authors and caretakers. All together these actors signify and give meaning to the works. Therefore, instead of thinking of a ‘freeze frame’ the presentation and conservation of net art should focus on variability. This opens up different paths and options, making for conservation strategies akin to assembling traces.
  • Article
    Editorial Necsus
    NECSUS Editorial Board (2014)
  • Article
    Empire is out there!? The spirit of imperialism in the Pixar animated film UP
    Meinel, Dietmar (2014)
    The animated feature Up (Pete Docter, 2009) tells the story of wilderness explorer Charles Muntz in search of a rare species of bird in the South American valley of Paradise Falls and widower Carl Frederickson hoping to mend the pain of losing his wife by fulfilling their lifelong dream of traveling to the same valley. Both men pursue their fantasies of adventure in South America. I situate this narrative within discourses of imperialism and the Monroe Doctrine. Whereas Charles has usurped Paradise Falls in his zealous decades-long hunt the film offers an alternative to his imperial fixation by portraying the redemptive experience of Carl during his travels. As the latter learns to define adventure as a spiritual endeavor, Carl sheds his imperial obsession and rescues his South American friends from Charles. I argue that Up attempts to critique the damaging effects of imperialism ‐ and by extension the ‘War on Terror’ ‐ through the figure of the fallen hero Charles but disavows the ‘informal’ qualities of U.S. empire embodied by Carl. This disavowal of the informal features of (U.S.) imperialism in Up allows me to explore the persistence of the ‘tenacious grasp’ of U.S. exceptionalism, while the imagery of a queer, transnational community also suggests alteration in the tropes of U.S. imperialism.
  • Article
    Enhanced echoes – Digitisation and new perspectives on film sound
    Aalbers, Jasper (2014)
    To say that sound has long been a neglected subject in film studies has become something of a commonplace ‐ yet this is no longer true. Starting in the 1980s with a special edition of the journal Yale French Studies film scholars have increasingly paid attention to a wide range of issues concerning film sound: dialogue, music, effects, sound design, and silent cinema. Surprisingly however, the processes of digitisation that have radically transformed film production, distribution, and exhibition in the last 20 years have hardly been the subject of attention for scholars specialising in film sound. In this article I will argue that the lack of attention to digitisation in film sound theory is a direct result of the fact that the copy vs. representation debate was already more or less settled before digitisation garnered academic interest. I will introduce the metaphor of the ‘enhanced echo’ as a different take on the relationship between an original sound and its representation. More specifically, I will use the metaphor of the echo to allow for a new appreciation of the role of the original sound in the transformative process of film sound recording, distribution, and exhibition.
  • Review
    Fassbinder Frankfurt
    Siewert, Senta (2014)
  • Review
    Globalisation and television formats
    Kooijman, Jaap (2014)
  • Review
    Impossible dreams: EUROPE AND LOVE IN CINEMA
    Handyside, Fiona (2014)
  • Review
  • Article
    Mapping the rise of the iPhone – Between phones and mobile media
    Verstraete, Ginette (2014)
    This article discusses a cluster of specific technologies and practices in the history of the mobile phone in the U.S. and Europe that have been crucial for the success of Apple’s iPhone. It argues that Apple has integrated these developments along three major strategies: all-in-one, customization, and location-awareness. Unraveling these histories and strategies allows us to circumvent the blind spot created by looking at the iPhone solely as a magic object catering to the personal needs of the mobile user. What lies between the object and the subject is a complex assemblage of technologies, actors, and space-bound practices that situate the product and the consumer in an expansive, commodified, and increasingly modulated environment at the heart of which lies the entanglement of user agency and corporate control.
  • Article
    Microphysics of a rationalist utopia – Ruins, town plans, and the avant-garde documentary
    Mariani, Andrea (2014)
    In 1934, Giuseppe Terragni, the father of Italian architectural Rationalism, planned and directed the renovation work of the city of Como. Retracing this utopian project ‐ definitively withdrawn after some years and never completed ‐ the article points out the singular relationship between the Terragni Studio and the young comrades of the University Fascist Film Club of Como: the ‘Cineguf’. The Cineguf were a complex network of film clubs spread all over the country; they were fostered and equipped by the National Fascist Party in order to create a new generation of filmmakers for the new fascist cinema. In these groups the avant-garde culture of the cine-clubs and the official aesthetic debates about a genuine realism found an original and controversial solution. The focus here is on the short film realised by the Cineguf which was commissioned by the Terragni Studio and financed by the Urban Office of the Municipality: Renovation of the Quarter ‘La Cortesella’. I proceed by taking into account different degrees of conceptualisation of the ‘trace’, presenting a reflection on the complexity of the historiographical operation, including the ways in which the historical traces of these filmmakers’ experience of modernity are identifiable in the text.
  • Review
    Oberhausen: An interview with Lars Henrik Gass
    Camporesi, Enrico (2014)
  • Article
    Poetics and politics of the trace – Notes on surveillance practices through Harun Farocki’s work
    De Rosa, Miriam (2014)
    The article presents an interpretation of the discourse of surveillance after its shift from a discipline model to a control one, adopting the notion of the trace as a key concept. In this perspective Harun Farocki’s latest production works as an analytic device used by the author to explore the facets of the contemporary surveillance scenario and to couple it with a reflection on the ontology of the cinematic image. Through the prism of the director’s camera three strategies for thinking surveillance (represent, replicate, sublimate) are discussed, simultaneously suggesting a meta-cinematographic reflection on the filmic image.
  • Article
    Representation or misrepresentation? British media and Japanese popular
    Hinton, Perry (2014)
    For thirty years products of Japanese popular culture, including comics and animated films, have been very popular in the West. This essay examines the British social representations of the Japanese and Japanese cultural products and contrasts them with the Japanese context in which they have been produced along with the Japanese representations within them. The British representations are shown to be based on a view of the Japanese as the cultural ‘other’ and Japanese cultural products as both different and at times transgressive. This contrasts with the Japanese representations within their media output that deal with issues of youth and gender within their society. Thus, the British interpretation provides an explanation for the social representation of the Japanese as a cultural ‘other’ and for the limited range of Japanese popular culture, such as anime, shown on mainstream British television.
  • Article
    Representations of Madrid in the (post-)transition to democracy
    Rodriguez-Ortega, Vicente (2014)
    This essay focuses on a group of films of the late Transition and beginning of the Post-Transition to analyse how they interrelate with the substantial political and social changes occurring in Spain during this key period of its recent history. Specifically, it examines diverse representations of Madrid as a crucial space to account for these transformations. The essay centers on the representational strategies of the filmmakers Pedro Almodóvar, Fernando Trueba, and José Luis Garci to study clashing approaches to the evolving Madrid cityscape: the attempt to move forward through the depiction of transgressive social and cultural behaviours, and the need to hold on to a disappearing past to deal with the drastic changes in Spanish society.
  • Review
    Shadow economies and digital disruption
    Baumann, Chris (2014)
  • Article
    Siegfried Kracauer’s affinities
    Elsaesser, Thomas (2014)
    Seen from today’s vantage point, Siegfried Kracauer’s Theory of Film (1960) envisages the possibility that the cinema may turn out to have been a historical phenomenon whose technological specifications as well as aesthetic properties are contingent, but whose ‘ontology’ speaks to such broad concerns as ‘history’ and ‘life’. Kracauer poses affinities between photography and the cinema which can be understood not only in the context of a phenomenologically-inflected aesthetics of realism or as a covert manifesto supporting the modern cinema of the time-image, but they can also provide a foil for the moving image in its current condition, where art and life tend to change places and where the contingent, the endless, and the indeterminate have become the basis for extracting from images ‘useful’ information and ‘usable’ data.