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CFP: Screen Textures: Haptics, Tactility, and the Moving Image

Copied below the break is a call for paper for a graduate conference entitled Screen Textures: Haptics, Tactility, and the Moving Image at the University of Pittsburgh, October 17-18, 2014.

The deadline for submission is Thursday May 15, 2014.


Screen Textures: Haptics, Tactility, and the Moving Image University of Pittsburgh, October 17-18, 2014 Hosted by the Film Studies Graduate Student Organization (FSGSO)

Keynote by Eugenie Brinkema, Assistant Professor of Literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Brinkema teaches Film Studies and her fields of specialty include Film Theory; Violence and Representation; Embodiment and Affect; Critical Theory; Psychoanalysis and Continental Philosophy; Gender and Sexuality Studies. Brinkema is the author of The Forms of the Affects (Duke University Press, 2014).

“When verbal and visual representation is saturated, meanings seep into bodily and other dense, seemingly silent registers.”

– Laura Marks, The Skin of the Film

To address the rise of haptic media, which pervades everything from gaming to 3D cinema to the surfaces of digital devices – “those skins that beg to be touched,” as Alexander Galloway puts it in The Interface Effect– our conference affirms the need to rethink the haptics of images, historical and contemporary, and welcomes papers that attend to the textural dimensions of interfaces, broadly conceived.

Following Jennifer Barker’s assertion in The Tactile Eye that “cinematic tactility occurs not only at the skin or the screen, but traverses all the organs of the spectator’s body and the film’s body,” we recognize haptics and texture as essential components of cinematic form and visual culture. Focusing not only on spectatorship and textural aesthetics, but also on the materiality of production and exhibition, we invite presentations that address – perhaps with what Eva Hayward called “fingeryeyes” – the haptic encounter of spectator and image, body and apparatus, form and feeling.

Despite the broad critical attention to these topics, the intricacies of haptic spectatorship remain murky, leaving unanswered: how do we feel an image, and what, or whom, is changed by this encounter? How do formal and textual qualities – grainy, unclear images, the surfaces of objects, camera movement – convey a sense of touch or mobility? Conversely, how does cinema’s materiality – decaying celluloid, scratched emulsion, different effects and formats (such as Sadie Benning’s Pixelvision films) – touch back? Which images strike us as chewy, brittle, spongy, and how do our bodies apprehend them? How is texture expressed, experienced, and enacted?

We are particularly interested in submissions that engage Film, TV, New Media, Gaming, and Media Studies Critical Theory and Historiography. Other possible topics may include:

  1. visual culture and tactility, or what Tim Lenoir calls “the shift from the visual to the affective, haptic, and proprioceptive registers”

  2. preservation and archival practice

  3. production/institutional discourse about film and texture

  4. synaesthesia, kinesthesia, the hierarchy of the senses

  5. texture and aesthetics, e.g. color

  6. mimesis, cultural contact and imitation (Taussig)

  7. haptic images, whereby “the sense of sight behaves just like the sense of touch” (Deleuze)

  8. materiality of sound, sound texture, “grain of the voice” (Barthes), “reduced listening” (Chion)

  9. video games/responsive media, ‘smart games’ for training (surgeons and soldiers, for instance)

  10. experimental film and video art

  11. emerging multisensory media

  12. porn, techno-fetishism

  13. food, taste, and media

  14. psychogeography and sensation (Debord, Lefebvre)

  15. the “precarious aesthetic” of mistakes and imperfections (Fetveit)

  16. visceral transmissions: laughter, the scream, heartbeats, bleeding (Peretz)

  17. extracinematic strategies involving touch (e.g. William Castle’s Percepto! for The Tingler, 4D cinema)

  18. nonhuman haptics

We welcome approaches from a range of disciplines, including but not limited to: Film and Media studies, Art and Art History, Visual Culture, Feminist and Queer Studies, Communications, Critical Theory, Literature, Musicology, and Philosophy.

Interested graduate students may submit abstracts (maximum 300 words) – along with institutional/departmental affiliations and current email – to by May 15, 2014. For more information, please contact the FSGSO by email at the above address.

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