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CFP: “Still Walking, Still Sleeping, Still Life: Slow Aesthetics and the Moving Image” U

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

“Still Walking, Still Sleeping, Still Life: Slow Aesthetics and the Moving image” 12th Annual Graduate Student Conference of the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago April 22-23, 2016

Submission Deadline: January 15, 2016

Details: ________________________________________________________

Still Walking, Still Sleeping, Still Life: Slow Aesthetics and the Moving Image

12th Annual Graduate Student Conference of the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago

April 22-23, 2016

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Jean Ma, Associate Professor of Art and Art History, Stanford University.

“Cinema, like no other art, widens, enhances, and concentrates a person’s experience—and not only enhances it but makes it longer, significantly longer. That is the power of cinema.”

— Andrei Tarkovsky

These words by the celebrated Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky elegantly capture a tendency that has gained prominence in art cinema over the past thirty years, which has seen filmmakers across the globe embrace an aesthetics of slowness in order to test the power of cinema to stretch, heighten, and otherwise transform our experience of time. Dubbed “slow” or “contemplative,” this body of work is broadly characterized by the deployment of extremely long-takes, stillness, inexpressive acting styles, sparse and decentered narratives (or lack thereof), and minimal and repetitive soundtracks. To date, the discourse surrounding these films has situated slow cinema as the culmination of the aesthetic project of post-war European art cinema. Drawing heavily on André Bazin’s work on neorealism and its reinvention by Gilles Deleuze (via Henri Bergson), such accounts tend to treat “slowness” as a constant, resulting in a neglect of how slow aesthetics are transformed by their specific historical, geopolitical, and cultural production contexts. But is slowness in fact a universal aesthetic quality, or might it be better theorized as a quality that is always contextual?

This conference seeks proposals for 20-minute conference papers. We welcome papers that engage with the contextual, circumstantial valences of slowness in order to expand upon, complicate, and inflect the discussion of slow cinema with a more particular, local, and historically-informed perspective. How does the durational aesthetic mediate different historical and ontological forms of temporality (geopolitical, machinic, ecological)? How is slowness transformed by different geographical and institutional sites of exhibition (transnational festivals, galleries, the classroom, etc.)? How does the slowness of the camera intersect with the slowness of bodies it represents? What politics might emerge from this treatment? Moreover, how does the slowness of global art cinema intersect with, draw from, and/or influence the slow aesthetics of other artistic practices (e.g. music, dance, video) and philosophical traditions?

To this end, in-depth studies and new approaches to filmmakers associated with slow cinema are welcomed, as are papers concerned with objects that push the limits of “slowness” and the “cinematic” (ex. video and gallery film, animation, video games).

Potential topics may include (but are not limited to):

– What formal qualities and devices constitute slowness (e.g. tableau, camera movement, scales of framing)? How might these films radicalize the formal repertoire of post-war realism? How might camera movement, sound, photographical inserts, freeze-frame, and slow motion ask us to revise our understanding of slow aesthetics in the moving image?

– Charting new lineages of slow cinema. How do recent examples of slow cinema complicate the traditional account of slowness as emergent from European art cinema? How do local temporalities and situated histories individuate the various “slow” cinemas of the international art film scene?

– Extra-cinematic lineages of slow aesthetics, for example, from music, painting, dance, and performance.

– Slow aesthetics in popular genres such as comedy (Songs from the Second Floor) melodrama (Climates), and horror (The Isle, Trouble Every Day), martial arts (Ashes of Time), and science fiction (Stalker).

– Slow sound: what might an acoustic perspective on slow aesthetics look (sound) like? 

– Slowness and the human body (tired, bored, aged bodies).

– The posthuman and ecological politics of slowness, or, alternatively, slowness as an anthropocentric conceit (especially in landscape film).

– How does slowness intersect with conceptual categories like boredom, abstraction, and violence?

– Slowness outside the black box (ex. durational aesthetic in the gallery, slow video games, slow cinema on the net, and other exhibition sites).

– Case studies of “slow” auteurs: Pedro Costa, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Lav Diaz, Lisandro Alonso, Amat Escalante, Carlos Reygadas, Bela Tarr, Albert Serra, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Abbas Kiarostami, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Naomi Kawase, Tsai Ming-liang, Bruno Dumont, Cristian Mungiu, Cristi Puiu, Gus Van Sant, Kelly Reichardt, Fred Kelemen, Theo Angelopoulos, etc. Or case studies of slowness outside of the usual canon of auteurs.

– How to teach slow cinema? How can slowness be conveyed in a limited time period, as in a classroom or conference presentation? How to prepare students and audiences for the exhibition of slow cinema?

Please send an abstract (250-300 words) to co-chairs Katerina Korola, Pao-Chen Tang, and Zain Jamshaid at by January 15, 2016. Participants will be notified by mid-February. 

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