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[Commlist] cfp Imago Special Issue Surfaces, Boundaries, Formats of Contemporary Images

Mon Jan 28 16:40:04 GMT 2019

Call for Papers

/Imago - Studi di cinema e media/, n. 20/2019


*Surfaces, Boundaries, Formats of Contemporary Images*

*Ilaria A. De Pascalis and Lorenzo Marmo*

Contemporary visual culture investigates the materiality of images and their status as objects, as well as their structure, their boundaries, and their points of contact with other experiences and phenomena. The /Imago 20/ dossier aims to address the multifarious ways images permeate the current mediascape (Pinotti-Somaini). The ever-increasing changeability that connotes the surfaces of digital images demands a thorough interrogation of pixel culture, shedding light upon the mobility, ductility, and reversibility of contemporary devices (Casetti). At the same time, a stronger awareness seems to be emerging about the issue of the aspect ratio, whose fluidity plays a primary role in both social and authorial practices (Doane).

            Such an awareness has given the term “format” renewed relevance. On the one hand, in connection to cinema, it concerns the geometric configuration of images, i.e. the shape through which they frame the world. Recent mainstream cinema seems to be playing with horizontal, vertical and square frames, in order to produce complex creative and theoretical discourses; and the development of such a trend might be connected to the new frames implemented by smartphones and mobile devices. On the other hand, the term “format” suggests the extension of the image file, i.e. the quantity of information it contains, with direct consequences on its resolution and visual quality. In this sense, the notion of format might occasion a wide-ranging reflection on the new configurations of high- and low-definition, as well as on the atmospheric dimension of images (Griffero), hence contributing to the investigation on the materiality of contemporary images and screens (Bruno). We would like to propose an interaction between these two meanings of the term “format”, that might become both metaphor and instrument to map out the new theoretical production on images.

            The dossier aims to tackle the boundaries and limits of contemporary images, addressing their ability to mold our imaginaries (Bertetto), to deploy spaces and environments (Heise), and to function as cultural techniques (Siegert) producing complex subjective and relational configurations. In which ways and to what extent does the creative dimension pervade social practices in everyday life? And, vice versa, what are the implications of the reuse of pre-existent materials in artistic production? In the multifaceted current situation, different media practices and experiences intertwine with one another developing original synergies, and it is possible to intercept brand-new models of vision. The dossier will not focus exclusively on the dynamics of the web; rather, it also aims at exploring other aspects of the contemporary mediascape, addressing the ways the recent reflection on images contaminates and rewrites the configuration of cinema in the traditional sense. What role is envisioned today for film and traditional projections? And what new opportunities are opened by the diffusion of ever-more diversified devices and platforms for image production and use?

The proposals may either consider the theoretical scenario of these models of creation and reception or focus on case studies that might enlighten the new forms and the original status of contemporary images. Submissions may consequently deal with (but are not limited to), the following topics:

  * aspect ratio: contemporary devices allow us to rotate images and
    transform their proportions, and such a play with formats also finds
    a new expressive role in mainstream cinema and tv (one can think of
    the stylistic choices of Xavier Dolan or Wes Anderson, as well as
    the recent Amazon series /Homecoming/);
  * the diffusion of image-modification-oriented practices on a social
    medium such as Instagram (Manovich), the specific modes of
    representation implied in the different image proportions (for
    instance, the relationship between cover and profile images in
    microblogging platforms), and the new role for vertical images in
    the arts (as in the “Vertical Cinema” project);
  * resolution: high- or low-definition images, media temperatures
    (McLuhan), the notion of “pixel” (Cubitt), and its comparison with
    the grain of analog photography;
  * issues of format in relation to the work of authors, concerning both
    shooting practices and distribution options, as a challenge to the
    divide between film and digital images (consider for instance the
    works by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón or Christopher
  * the renewal and hybridization of psychoanalytic approaches to the
    study of the relationship between images and subjectivity: the
    recent reconfigurations of fetishism, possessivity, and other
    dynamics of interaction and interpellation between images and their
    users (Mulvey);
  * new experiences in the realm of cinephilia (Keathley): on the one
    hand, its unflinching investment in film projection; on the other
    hand, its metamorphosis in relation to the redefinition of the
    cinematic experience and the practices of archival collecting
    brought about by new formats and interfaces;
  * the idea of carnal images (Sobchack), the dimension of synesthesia,
    and the renewed role of tactility (Strauven) in the configuration of
    the experience of media;
  * the atmospheric quality of images (Böhme), namely their ability to
    question ontological theories in the direction of an ongoing
    negotiation between objectivity and subjectivity;
  * the implications of the relationship between immersive images (IMAX,
    3D, virtual reality, etc.) and their audiences: the experiences of
    spectatorship and their boundaries, the spectacular connotation of
    images, the dynamics of distribution, preservation and use of these
    new models of vision (from museums to domestic devices), as well as
    their ideological consequences;
  * the redefinition of the distinction between amateurs and
    professional creators of images, and how such a reconfiguration
    questions contemporary reuse practices (Kuhn), from found footage
    films to the fragmentation of images in reaction or comment GIFs;
  * the specific manipulation of duration and length, considering both
    pre-existing and original images. The cinematic time that dominated
    the 20th century is now being rewritten and reoriented, for example
    through the production of ephemeral videos for online circulation,
    and in general towards a blurring of the border between still and
    moving images (as detailed by the reflection of the /Still Moving/
    field: Bellour; Røssaak).

Proposals of no more than 2500 characters, in Italian or English, and accompanied by an essential bibliography (five items max), five keywords, and a biography, should be submitted to (_ilariaantonella.depascalis /at/ <mailto:(ilariaantonella.depascalis /at/>_ and _lorenzomarmo@gmail.com_ by *March 11th, 2019*.

The editors will communicate the selection results by the end of March, and the essays (40.000 characters, accompanied by a 1500 characters abstract, five keywords and a 500 characters bio) should be completed by June 20th, 2019, to be sent to the peer reviewers.

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