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[ecrea] CFP - Udine - filmforum conference 2019 - "Moving Pictures, Living Machines

Tue Oct 23 22:11:21 GMT 2018

*Moving Pictures, Living Machines*

*Automation, Animation and the Imitation of Life in Cinema and Media*

/FilmForum 2019. //XXVI Udine International Film Studies Conference –
March 21//^st // – 23//^th //, Gorizia (Italy)/*

Deadline extended until November 15th, 2018!


At the end of 2017, computer scientist Andrew Yan-Tak Ng labelled
Artificial Intelligence as “the new electricity” (and with it, he
referred more broadly to automation, robotics, computer vision, big data
collection and analysis, etc.). AI becomes, then, the core engine of a
forthcoming revolution in many industrial, socio-cultural, scientific
and educational realms. On the one hand, this “provocative” reference
aims to include these new assets within a complex social, technological
and industrial framework, on the other hand, it aims to defuse those
dangerous arguments concerning misoneism and technophobia. Moreover,
this sensationalist metaphor could represent a paradoxical starting
point for our conference: it underscores that every historical research
concerning technology must pinpoint (first of all) the “conditions of
possibilities” of a media technological network, and that even
linear/evolutionist perspective could inspire unusual and brand new

Thus, the 2019 Udine/Gorizia International Film Studies Conference will
investigate the interrelationships between automation, representation
and “viewing/listening dispositives” from early to late
modernity/postmodernity. In doing this, we would draw on the “1900
episteme” (which is the main feature of the “technical society that come
into being in the 17th century and became the flourishing industrial
society of 19th century”) and the tripartition spectator (or
user)-machine-representation” (Albera and Tortajada, 2010). More
precisely, we aim to stress the function of automatism in long-term
dynamics of dispossession, integration, training, disorientation,
deprivation, proletarization, and rejection of the human being/“subject”
as a creator/producer and as a consumer/viewer/listener: how do these
dispositives imitate human faculties? And how do they imitate the world
that surrounds us? How do they imitate life?

Not by chance, with the rise of an emerging “machine agency” and a new
“subject of history” (Anders, 1980) between the 17th and 21th Century,
“technologies took over”: automated cultural activities and daily
routines “were increasingly imagined as living entities” (Parikka,
2010). For being capable of recording movement over time, the cinema and
the media double the world that surrounds human beings.

Concerning these issues, since the late 19th century cinema played of
course a key role. As Jackey Stacey and Lucy Suchman explained:
“cinema’s history of bringing things to life lies in this twofold
manifestation of automata on the screen. As both the instantiation of
the foundational drive behind the medium and the condensation of its
animating capacity” (2012: 15). Drawing on the cultural series that
binds cinema to the realm of automatic technologies of
animated/enlivened images (“living” machines producing “lively”
representations), we would like to focus on its crossing points: from
mechanization to electronification and from electronification to
digitization. Analysing these crossing points, we would like to stress
three distinct but strictly intertwined areas of inquiry:

*Automation and machinery:* i.e. the ways in which the machine is
“brought to life” (with a specific focus on pre-cinematic automata;
mechanical optical toys; automatic cameras; automatic recording systems;
the inner mechanics and components of cinematic machines; video signal
transmission etc.). How did the different techniques of making an
apparatus move and “operate by itself” change our understanding of the
technical media? How do “machine-animism” and the subjectification of
non-human organisms relate to the different stages in the history of
automata? Do the capabilities of recording media of “seeing and hearing
for us” create a new form of ‘non-human’ subjectivity? Can the material
encounter with media-technological apparatuses from the past enrich our
knowledge about the cultural logics behind automation? Drawing on Edgar
Morin’s /The Cinema, or The Imaginary Man/ (1956; 2005) and Jentsch’s
theories, how can we pinpoint the uncanny power of viewing and listening
dispositives to re-produce human perceptual qualities?

*Automation and representation:* i.e. the ways in which machines
automatically produce optical representations/the ways in which
automatic machines are discursively and visually represented. In the
former sense, starting from the notions of /bildakts/, visual agency,
the mutual relationships between /tableaux vivants/ and automatic
procedures of inscription (as described by Horst Bredekamp [2010]), we
can reconstruct the ways in which schemata and mechanized actions have
historically informed the production of images and visual
representations. The relation between image and movement, which lies at
the core of any cine-apparatus, can be applied to different modes of
automated viewing, from animation (moving panoramas; mechanized
dioramas; filmstrips/“/le film fixe/”; film/video loops; GIF etc.) to
“vision-in-motion” (self-moving cameras; mobile screens; portable screen
media; drones; surveillance camera; gait analysis devices; medical,
automotive, military devices, etc.) and visual/cinematic representations
generated by AI.

Concerning the discursive and visual representation, we aim to foster a
reflection on how cinema, visual arts and audiovisual media have
referred to their own “machine-driven” nature by staging metaphorical
self-representation (visual contents and films about AI, automotive
systems, cyborgs, robotics, machine-driven bodies and systems etc.) and
producing replicas, hyperrealism effects, etc. Moreover, we aim to focus
on the production of a wide discursive corpus on screen and in other
enunciation spaces, which contributes to inform the collective
imagination on “living machines” and  “haunted media”.

*Automation and users:* i.e. the ways in which automatic labour
reconfigures the agency of the user (the spectator’s “innervation”; the
changes in the projectionist’s and technicians’ work; the notion of
“media gesture” and the user’s technological expertise; the “new
spectators” for contents created by algorithms; the automatic
recommendation systems used by digital streaming platforms; automation
for data/metadata management, etc.). How do we change our
media-competences and how do we interact with the machines whenever a
new automated technology is introduced? Does the mechanization of human
life imply a reverse process of “humanization of the machine”, whereby
technological apparatuses are reframed by anthropocentric criteria? How
do the hopes and threats of a “fully-automated society” re-address the
dichotomy between the human and the machine, giving way to the
discursive regimes of ‘technophobia’ and ‘technophilia’? Which are the
political/institutional entailments of automation regarding film and
media archives? Can we critically reassess the deep implications brought
by automation to the preservation of the cultural heritage by taking
under serious scrutiny the visualization tools we are used to operate
with (e.g. film restoration and film materials visual atlases)? Finally,
how does the adoption of automatic tools and algorithms challenge the
role of human creativity in the narrative processes and practices?



*We encourage contributions addressing any of these areas or the
interrelationships occurring between them. We invite you to send us
proposals for papers or panels. Proposals should not exceed one page in
length. *


*Please make sure to attach a short CV (10 lines max). The new deadline for
their submission is November, 15th 2018.*


*A registration fee (160 euros) will be applied. Moreover travel costs
(tickets, etc.) will not be refunded. On the other hand, we will
partially cover the costs of your accommodation (2 nights in the best
accommodation solutions available). Special rates are available for
additional nights. For more information, please contact us at
**(udineconference /at/ <mailto:(udineconference /at/> <mailto:(udineconference /at/ <mailto:(udineconference /at/>>**. *


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