Faculty Activities: Jeffrey Kirkwood at SCMS

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Gaston Quiribet, still from Fugitive Futurist (1924).

This weekend, Assistant Professor Jeffrey Kirkwood will be attending the annual conference of the Society of Cinema and Media Studies in Atlanta, GA.
Kirkwood is chairing a panel called “Scientific Fictions,” on which he will also be presenting a paper titled “Cinematic Empiricism around 1900.”

Scientific Fictions: Facts are defined to a great extent by the conventions of the media through which they are represented. Eighteenth and nineteenth century hand-drawn scientific atlases sought to depict “average types” of plants, organs, and animals, in the late nineteenth century Ernst Mach used Schlieren photography to capture images of high-speed ballistic objects, and more recently reconstruction algorithms have been used to produce images of everything from nebulas to neuroreceptors. In each case, the truth of the image, inscription, or recording is tied to beliefs about how the medium intervenes in the correspondence between the depiction and what is depicted. However, such media technologies have also been used to generate fictional or counterfactual realities as a way of exploring and expanding the boundaries of the cultural and scientific imaginary. NOAA uses prediction algorithms to visualize the potential outcomes of climate change, social scientists frequently “backtest” theories about future developments using past data, and the scientific-psychologist-turned-film-theorist Hugo Münsterberg evisaged using cinema as a simulation to test the reactions of streetcar drivers to potentially hazardous situations.

In all of these cases, the value of the insights derives from what is possible, rather than what is actual, requiring new beliefs about how the operations of media govern our understanding of the world as it is, as well as how it could be. Engaging with the emerging interest in notions of counterfactuality among media scholars and historians of science, this panel turns to think about how scientific fictions are structured and represented by the medium of their expression and what it might mean to have an objective vision of something that cannot—by definition—exist. With this in mind, the panel will seek to answer questions about how scientific fictions are represented or visualized, how one can discriminate between legitimate fictions, the possibility of a hermeneutics of counterfactuals, and what implications counterfactuality has for theorizing the “materiality” of the medium. If is true, as the physiologist Emil du Bois-Reymond claimed at a conference on “The Limits of the Knowledge of Nature,” that that the “mechanical paradigm” of scientific knowledge provided merely an “extremely useful fiction,” it is the purpose of this panel to uncover the ways in which such fictions are constructed.

Faculty Activities: Natalija Mijatovic at Yale

The work of Natalija Mijatovic, Associate Professor and Chair of the Art Department, is currently on view at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music as part of the show Between Clock and Bed:

“Between Clock and Bed,” a new exhibition at the Institute of Sacred Music (ISM), investigates the motif of mortality through the work of six distinct artists: Laura Mosquera, Natalija Mijatovic, Kirsten Moran, Stephen Knudsen, Kenny Jensen, and Ronny Rysz. (Rysz is senior associate of communications and marketing at the Yale Center for British Art.) Each artist directly or indirectly works with themes of death in myriad ways.

The exhibition, curated by Jon Seals M.A.R. ’15, is meant to encourage students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the Yale Divinity School and Yale Institute of Sacred Music “to learn more about their own lives in the midst of death,” according to a press announcement of the exhibition.

“Many observers have entered their own anxiety through an artist’s wounds on canvas and found kindred spirits: artists that may know some of their own pain,” the announcement notes. “Others have found sobering echoes of joy and exuberance in art that encourages its viewers to live life well. Thankfully Munch did not create his ‘Frieze of Life’ with only two themes, death and anxiety, but balanced these with a third theme, that of love (albeit a fractured love). His personal writings demonstrate that he allows for, and in some cases hopes for, love to enter in; this love includes and presupposes divine love.”

The exhibition, presented by ISM with support from Yale Divinity School, will run through June 2 at ISM, 409 Prospect St., New Haven, CT. Hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The show is free and open to the public.

Graduate activities: Wylie Schwartz awarded grant from American-Scandinavian Foundation

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Happening in the backyard, Ex-School, Pilestræde, 1964. Photo: Egon Engman, image from: Museum Jorn in Silkeborg.

Congratulations to doctoral student Wylie Schwartz, who has been awarded a grant to study in Scandinavia for 2016-2017 from the American-Scandinavian Foundation in order to conduct research for her dissertation, “Experimental Pedagogies: Art and Politics of the Scandinavian Neo-Avant-Garde (1961-1972).”

The American-Scandinavian Foundation is a publicly-supported not-for-profit organization committed to promoting educational, cultural and professional exchange between the United States and the Nordic countries—Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.  For more information, see http://www.amscan.org/

Graduate Activities: Paulina Banas and Rotem Rozental receive Graduate Excellence Awards

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Congratulations to doctoral students Rotem Rozental and Paulina Banas, both recipients of Binghamton’s Graduate Excellence Awards for 2015-2016. During a ceremony held on March 16, Paulina Banas received the Award for Excellence in Teaching, which honors graduate teaching assistants and instructors of record who have demonstrated exceptional service to Binghamton University’s undergraduates, and Rotem Rozental received the Award for Excellence in Research, which honors the important contributions graduate students make to research at the University and the wide variety of approaches they take to the advancement of knowledge.

Faculty Activities: John Tagg in membrana

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 2.09.40 PMmembrana is a new, bi-annual photography magazine based in Slovenia, dedicated to promoting a theoretically grounded understanding of photography, as well as new and bold approaches to photography in general.  An English language offshoot of the well-established Slovenian contemporary photography magazine Fotografija, membrana positions itself in the space between scholarly magazines and popular publications, offering an open forum for critical reflection on the medium that presents analytical texts alongside quality visuals. Its first issue appears this spring with a special on Camouflage, including Ilija Tomanić Trivundža’s conversation with Distinguished Professor John Tagg: “Governmentality and the Image: an Interview with John Tagg.” Fotografija magazine is also preparing a reader of Tagg’s work in Slovenian translation.

Faculty Activities: Tom McDonough at WIELS

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Constant’s Design for a Gypsy Camp, 1958.

On March 25, Associate Professor and Chair Tom McDonough will take part in a conference titled Let’s Build the Hacienda at  WIELS Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels, held in conjunction with Vincent Meessen’s exhibition Sire, je suis de l’ôtre pays. McDonough’s paper is titled “Campo nomadi: Constant’s Design for a Gypsy Camp.”

Vincent Meessen’s exhibition Sire, je suis de l’ôtre pays is at the centre of this day of discursive presentations, during which the maze of the Situationist International will be further explored. A number of underexposed case studies will act as backdoors to the question at stake: how has architecture been used by the avant-garde to reinvent the everyday or, alternatively, to create a new “elsewhere”?