Wearing Out The Image
12th Annual Yale Film and Media Studies Graduate Student Conference
February 8-9, 2019
Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall Street, New Haven, CT
Keynote Speaker: Elena Gorfinkel, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, King’s College London
Call for Papers:
“What weariness makes possible, weariness makes difficult.”
Maurice Blanchot, The Infinite Conversation
Exhaustion, fatigue, torpor, weariness, abeyance—this constellation of affects has come to define the default state of the everyday in our global and information-driven economies. As the world of labor permeates leisurely time in sleepless societies, depleting the domains of attentive, affective, and cognitive work, states of deprivation are normalized as modes of material and psychological engagement with the world. Precarity has become the necessary precondition for and inextricable product of labor. The imperative to exhaust oneself to secure a livelihood that nevertheless remains depleted creates a circular logic which extends well beyond the sphere of the human. Our deprivation thus appears to be an unending process rather than a completed state. We might ask, then: can exhaustion constitute a potential reservoir for political capaciousness? Or is exhaustion a paradoxical site for lateral agency, where the promises of utopianism are nothing but the vestigial remains of obsolete politics?
The stakes of exhausted situations have always been intricately bound up with visual media. Film began with employees leaving a factory. Some declare that it will end with the absorption and relocation of this cinematic labor within new media, screens and cultural techniques. From Maxim Gorky’s early elaboration of the over-drained sensorium to digital media’s unnerving capacity to make us vulnerable through pervasive surveillance and incessant enlisting of our attentional resources; from Robert Bresson’s numbed “models” and Andy Warhol’s wearily indifferent subjects, to Tsai Ming-Liang’s temporally alienated drifters and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s hallucinating sleepers, the cinema has exhibited a near-physiological capacity to expose the rhythms, effects, temporalities of tired bodies and depleted environments. Yet, as we navigate the intrusions of contemporary mediascapes, a new paradigm for the exhausted emerges. Digital media exhaust us by their exhaustiveness: our lives, continuously seeping through them, are left oversaturated, overused, and overexposed. It is the intrinsic tension pervading ‘exhaustion’ that this conference aims to explore within the spheres of film and media.
Paper proposals in all areas of film and media are welcome. Possible topics for a 20-minute presentation include (but are by no means limited to) exhaustion as it relates to:
- Questions of identity and embodiment, particularly of precarious and raced/gendered bodies
- Politics, economics, and aesthetics of time, memory, sleep, dreaming, and insomnia
- Resource extraction, capitalism, and precarious labor
- Political activism, discourses of self-care in the face of sustained life-ending forces and fantasies of ending exhaustion
- Urban screens, ambient media and exhausting mediascapes
- Modes of exhausted attention: boredom, distraction, buffering
- Temporality and exhaustion in contemporary cinema: the long take and slow cinema vs. digital effects and fast-paced editing
- The exhaustion of (film) theory
Applications should include a presentation title, a brief abstract (<300 words), and an academic biography (<100 words). Please email as a single attachment (.docx or .pages) to email@example.com before 5 PM EST on Saturday, December 1st, 2018.