Friday, March 29, 2013

SCMS/AAS 2013: An Informal Reflection

... just had a chance to catch up with great friends at the Association for Asian Studies conference in San Diego last week ... I'm becoming, or like being, a conference junkie -- including collecting those free journals, brochures, bookmarks, and all that colorful paraphernalia of academia that reminds me (perhaps) of going to boat, trailer, and sport shows as a kid with my father.

And with the right state of mind, just to hear professors and writers describe what's been going on currently is enlivening: new research, preliminary conclusions, fresh ideas/ re-evaluation of old ones.

On a broad-scale, these people we hear and meet and present with at these conferences aren't that famous, or maybe as famous as they could be, and it's a shame they're not. They fly under the radar, not household names. So, just as much as I love sports, I would hope for equivalent exposure for these academics who think, uncover, and discover culture/media/history with the same intensity as (insert favorite athlete or team).

Like flipping through the sports channels -- when not every match-up is that intriguing -- sometimes, similarly, these SCMS or AAS conferences can have some real duds -- put-you-to-sleep, read-straight-from-the-paper-with-no-eye-contact doozies. But it is the opportunity afforded by these events that makes a lasting impression.

At the least, there is a space where people can agree to disagree, and to speak while consistently citing their sources --

-- sometimes it seems like this practice of citing sources is all I can find to differentiate the so-called, fictional divide that separates the "real world" from the "ivory tower" of academia. Is it the fact that academics cite their sources that raises ire against "idiotic professors" as described in this article: "Fox News Host Greg Gutfeld Compares Student Environmental Activists To 'Radical Islamists'"? Anyways, I can't always put my finger on why professors/ university students in the U.S. are considered outside of the "real world" when they use their God-given minds responsibly...

Mario Trono, in his SCMS presentation, described how film previews are like drug hits, concentrated doses of a movie's best. Overall, these conferences are like that -- we might get that intellectual boost, then go away inspired, cite new sources, and start writing.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

 Conference swag bag.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

SCMS Conference Notes, Friday (3/8), Post 3

Presenters of Panel L5 "Mapping Transitions The History and Geography of Urban Change in Cinema after WWII"

Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, Chicago, 2013

On Friday I attended the excellent "Mapping Transitions The History and Geography of Urban Change in Cinema after WWII" panel chaired by Sabine Haenni from Cornell University, and sponsored by the Urban Studies Scholarly Interest Group. Highlights and notes included the following:

Jon Lewis - Oregon State University
“Mapping the Hollywood Transition, 1947–1962”
Jon Lewis -- my Master's Thesis advisor at Oregon State University :) -- presented on a new project that takes a look at three films in terms of space, gender, and narrative in order to map Hollywood's transition post-WWII. I look forward to seeing how this paper fits into Lewis's work as a whole.

Mark Shiel - King’s College London
“Some Unnatural Stillness: Los Angeles and Hollywood in Transition in The Christian Licorice Store (1971) and Play It As It Lays (1972)”
Mark Shiel analyzes two films from the early 1970s in order to trace representations of Los Angeles during this transitional period in Hollywood history.  Play It As It Lays is based on a Joan Didion novel, and the screenplay was written by Didion and her husband.  Shield's use of print publications from the concurrent time period, including a number of references to Variety, serves to frame the vibe/tone/atmospere of Los Angeles, film critic's responses to the films, and the values of Hollywood pre-The Godfather.

Sabine Haenni - Cornell University
“Urban Transition in an Age of Globalization: The French and American Crime Film Waves of the 1970s”
Sabine Haenni's work locates connections between colonialism, U.S. neo-liberal/economic imperialism, and the gangster film as it reveals the psychology of the late 1960s/ early 1970s in interesting ways.

Martha Shearer - King’s College London
“‘Don’t You Realize a Big City Like this Changes All the Time?’: The Hollywood Musical and the Rise of Cold War New York”
Couldn't travel due to Homeland Security, apparently.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

SCMS Conference Notes, Thursday (3/7), Post 2

Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, 2013, at the Drake Hotel, Chicago

My presentation was a part of the "Eco‑criticism and the Image: Visual Culture through a Green Lens, Part II" panel chaired by Mario Trono of Mount Royal University. While Part I of the Eco-Criticism panels earlier in the day dealt with both specific films and broad topics in the field of ecocinema, the presentations I was a part of dealt primarily with close-readings of films through an ecocritical lens.

Christopher Pavsek - Simon Fraser University
“John Smith’s The Kiss: Nature De‑Natured”
Pavsek's presentation focused on the short film "The Kiss," by filmmaker John Smith.  Pavsek focused on the ways sound works in this teachable film, particularly the way an audience will try to place synchronous/asynchronous sound, questioning the relationship between sound and image.

Mario Trono - Mount Royal University
“The Ecological Blindspot in Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir”
Trono proposed a fascinating method of reading films in such a way that one might remove the dominant narrative thrust of a film in order to notice those "secondary" details, namely the relationship between people and the environments in which they find themselves, in order to observe the way people relate to the environment around them.

Michelle Yates - Columbia College Chicago
“‘Stay the Course’: Consumerism, Environmentalism, and WALL‑E’s Edenic Recovery Narrative”
Yate's reading of WALL-E considers the way in which labor is represented in the film, allowing one to determine if this futuristic animation offers a cautionary tale, or whether it endorses the current status-quo.

James Wicks - Point Loma Nazarene University
“Love in the Time of Industrialization: Nature in Li Hanxiang’s The Winter”
 Preliminary conclusion of my paper include the following: Li Hanxiang's film provides a way to represent nature in such a way that, to put it loosely at this juncture, breaks down the urban/rural dichotomy by showing how people in can live in a harmonious relationship with nature even while living in a densely populated space within Taipei during the late 1960s. Li achieves this result through multiple means, including integrating iconography of The Buddha and visual imagery that might correspond to traditional Chinese landscape painting. At the same time, Li juxtaposes an urban fragmented space with natural viewpoints and vistas that interestingly confirms the differences between the two spaces.

Friday, March 8, 2013

SCMS Conference Notes, Thursday (3/7), Post 1

Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, Chicago, 2013

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend Panel G6 "Filming Local Sites and Global Cities Investigating the Politics and Aesthetics of the Location Shoot," but only had time to attend the first presentation by Dennis Lo from UCLA, entitled: “Taipei is My Home: Location (Pre)production as Critical Ethnography in Taipei’s City Films." Lo deftly describes the way in which Taipei is marketed as authentically Chinese in Asian Cinema, yet at the same time Taipei is a space in a continual process of redefinition. Lo draws upon theories of space as viewed from a bifocal perspective.

--- --- ---

Next, I attended the first part of a two-part Eco-Criticism panel Panel H14 "Eco-Criticism and the Image: Visual Culture through a Green Lens, Part I," the second part of which I participated. Highlights, in my view, of the panel included the following:

Chair: Hunter Vaughan - Oakland University

Hunter Vaughan - Oakland University
“500,000 Kilowatts of Stardust: An Eco-critical Approach to Production, Representation, and Discourse in Singin’ in the Rain”
What I enjoyed in this presentation was the focus Hollywood's excess -- its negligence and exploitation -- as revealed in pivotal moments of Singin' in the Rain.  Rather than focusing solely on the illusions Hollywood creates, this presentation reveals the material process involved in the creation of the illusion, the creation of images that "perfect nature."

Kiu-wai Chu - University of Hong Kong
“Beyond Human World: Eco-cosmospolitanism in Global Art Cinema”
An inspiring presentation that iterestingly interweaves Taoist thought into global/local assessment of Le Quattro Volte (2010) and Samsara (2011). How can film convey a global/planetary environmental awareness?

Pat Brereton - Dublin City University
“Environmental Ethics and Film”
Brereton's work demonstrates the ways in which mainstream film promotes an environmental agenda. His presentation outlined key ideas in environmental ethics, including: 1) the term "sustainability" means different things to different people, 2) empathy is key to environmental ethics (how can one care for, or be concerned about, the other?), and 3) environmental ethics materials need to be available on new media platforms.

Heather Houser - University of Texas at Austin
“Aerial Aesthetics in Environmental Visualizations”
This presentation recognizes the limitations of infovis (informative visuals that simplify complex datasets) by asking: how do formal strategies of representation shape our view/s of the environment? Interestingly, visuals that depict environmental destruction can also over-simplify the complexity (material conditions, plight of workers, negligence, etc.) of such processes while intending to educate and inspire viewers into ethical environmental behavior and action.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ecocinema Studies: Li Hanxiang's The Winter (1969)

My upcoming SCMS paper presentation summary on the representation of nature in Li Hanxiang's 李翰祥 The Winter 《冬暖》 (1969) is available here on the Ecomedia Studies website. To be delivered on March 07, 2013 in Chicago.

Panel Details:
Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference
Thursday 07 March, 2013, 5:00pm-6:45pm
Panel Title: Eco‑criticism and the Image: Visual Culture through a Green Lens, Part II