Film Screening in London – 31 October

•October 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Visualising the past, rebranding the present II (10 mins)

Dir. Jessica Jacobs – UK with Zaher Al Saghir – Syria (both present at screening)

An affectionate look at the interest, and in some cases love, visitors feel towards the Old City of Damascus in Syria.

Part of the London MENA Film Festival 2012

Wednesday, October 31 at 7pm (Doors open 6.30)

Leighton House Museum

12 Holland Park Road W14 8LZ

The power of the past

Visualising the past, rebranding the present is a series of four interconnected films about tourism, heritage and identity in Syria and Jordan. Since they were made over 37,000 people have been killed in the uprising against the Assad regime. Yet it was the destruction of parts of Aleppo’s Old City last month that has caused some of the strongest emotional reactions to this conflict so far from the British public, such as an online petition to UNESCO and the posting of tourist pictures of the Old City on the BBC news website.

Visualising the past, rebranding the present II is set in the Old City of Damascus, a living, breathing tableau of ancient histories, where formerly resplendent merchant courtyard houses have been restored and converted into restaurants and boutique hotels. In a dusty corner of this ancient world, if we turn down an alleyway, just past the Omayyad mosque, we find a antique shop and art gallery run by Zaher, a young Syrian whose family own a string of shops in the Old City. Here, as we sip our tea and listen to a neighbouring musician play the oud, we meet some of Zaher’s customers and begin to discover what draws them to this city. Among them is a Texan doctor searching for an encounter, a Dutch postwoman clutching her Lonely Planet guide, a Sky TV cameraman coming for a wedding and two ex-US soldiers, returning to take an Arabic language programme with ‘diplomatic’ passports.

Jessica Jacobs is a geographer at QMUL who uses film as a research method and for publications. For more information contact Jessica to.jessicajacobs@gmail.com 07931590427 http://jessicaljacobs.wordpress.com @rebrandlevant

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CFP: Conditions of Mediation conference at Birkbeck, University of London (17 June 2013)

•October 2, 2012 • Leave a Comment
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About

Media theory seems to have reached a moment in which it is effectively orthodox to presume we must pay attention first and foremost to the intricacies of everyday experience. Ethnographic audience studies, for example, have attacked assumptions that there is a discrete relationship between media content and audiences, arguing that media forms, content and technologies have indeterminate and multifaceted significance within the daily rhythms and spaces of their everyday lives. Studies of digital and networked media, meanwhile, have put into question the very notion of ‘audiences’ as the starting point for understanding mediated experience.

For some, accounting for the intricacies of everyday mediated experience has implied asking people what they actually do with media. But for others this is not enough: instead, the question is what constitutes the conditions of media experience in the first place. How do political configurations of discourses and inherited dispositions prefigure mediated action? How do material arrangements themselves constitute environments for mediated experience? How might we account for nonhuman agency, for example the ways in which software objects interact not only with human perceptions but also each other? Such questions point to a renewed confidence in explaining not just how but also why media, technology and communication are experienced as they are – all the while resisting a reversion to functionalism.

These interests in the very conditions of mediation suggest, if sometimes only implicitly, an emerging interest in a phenomenology of media. Indeed, phenomenology – broadly the structuring of perception – has seemingly obvious relevance for recent academic interests in media experience. Yet its use or invocation in media studies has been scattered. While this might simply reflect the considerable diversity of phenomenological philosophies and their applications, there have also been concerted efforts recently to rethink phenomenology across the social sciences and humanities. Paired with recent interests in mediated experience, the time seems apt to reassess what it might mean to theorize media phenomenologically.

Conditions of Mediation seeks to bring together scholars from a very wide range of perspectives – such as media history, media archaeology, audience studies, political theory, metaphysics, software studies, science and technology studies, digital aesthetics, cultural geography and urban studies – to reflect explicitly on the phenomenological groundings of their work on media. The phenomenological thinking to which participants might connect will be broad-based, ranging from core thinkers such as Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre to those with looser affiliations to phenomenology per se, for example Arendt, Bergson, Bourdieu, Deleuze, Garfinkel, Ingold, Latour, Whitehead and Harman.

In short, the overall aim is that this conference goes beyond a mere congregation of media phenomenologists. Instead, it will encourage critical reflection on what various readings of phenomenology might offer media and technology studies that other approaches cannot. Conversely, it will also welcome reflections on the limits of phenomenological approaches in philosophical, theoretical, political and empirical terms.

Paper proposals are invited from a very wide range of perspectives, including but not limited to media history, media archaeology, audience studies, political theory, metaphysics, software studies, science and technology studies, digital aesthetics, cultural geography and urban studies. Though all proposals should relate in some way to phenomenological thinking, this should be interpreted broadly, ranging from core thinkers such as Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre to those with looser affiliations to phenomenology per se, for example Arendt, Bergson, Bourdieu, Deleuze, Garfinkel, Ingold, Latour, Whitehead and Harman.

A printable CFP is available here for further distribution.

Format:

The pre-conference will feature two plenaries of keynote speakers, as well as four-six panels of paper presentations selected from submissions of abstracts.

Paper proposal submission process:

Please send an abstract (max 200 words) of your paper to both Scott Rodgers (s.rodgers@bbk.ac.uk) and Tim Markham (t.markham@bbk.ac.uk) by 20 November 2012. Authors will be informed regarding acceptance / rejection for the preconference no later than 20 December 2012.

Comic Books and Copyright: Cambodian artistic heritage at risk

•September 24, 2012 • 2 Comments

An editorial submitted to the Phnom Penh Post on 30 July 2012 authored by Jason Dittmer (University College London) and Katherine Brickell (Royal Holloway, University of London).

Imagine walking through the market and seeing something you created with training, care, and effort piled high in a stall, reproduced by someone else without any acknowledgement or royalty. This scenario has unfolded time and time again for Cambodian comic book artists, a talented but embattled group whom we have been interviewing with the help of Chorlida Leng (Paññāsāstra University), John Weeks, and the staff of Our Books, an organization dedicated to promoting Cambodian comics culture. We propose that greater copyright protection and enforcement for artistic works would help provide work and creative outlets for this group. More importantly, it would help preserve the artistic national heritage of Cambodia.
These comics artists are often highly trained, either at the Royal University of Fine Arts or at Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang, and the self-trained artists are especially talented at emulating and building upon the style of past works. Through their specialized talents these artists possess knowledge of uniquely Cambodian ways of representing Cambodian bodies, landscapes, and culture. The last decade has seen a deluge of foreign television shows and movies that certainly entertain. But with the decline of the Cambodian comics industry has come a blood-letting of talent: over time the ability to tell Cambodian stories, with Cambodian art, will disappear as a new generation of artists fails to replace this one.
This may sound melodramatic, but our interviews indicate exactly how these artists conceive of their work as contributing to the Cambodian nation. Whether through the telling of ancient tales from Cambodian history or through stories of contemporary social and political relevance to Cambodia such as gender relations, these artists see themselves as occupying a niche that will otherwise go unfilled by foreign media imports. At the moment the comics community is largely sustained by work supplied by NGOs in Phnom Penh who have begun to use comics as a way of educating young people. These NGOs appreciate the power of the image to convey serious information in an entertaining way, and at a relatively low cost. This lifeline is much appreciated, but it will only last as long as comics remain in vogue among the NGO’s funders. What will happen when these patrons eventually turn elsewhere?
What is needed is a local market for comics that supports the comics’ creators. What can be found in the markets are unauthorized re-publications of past works that benefit only the pirates who re-publish them and also flood the market with cheap product. There is no incentive for artists to create new works, as they will be quickly appropriated by the pirates who do not compensate the artist for her or his time, training, and imagination. Why would anyone make a new creative work in this situation? Today in Cambodia there is nominal protection for artists’ work, but in practice there is nobody to turn to about the stack of counterfeit comics in the market. According to Cambodian copyright law, passed in 2003, those selling pirated goods can be fined up to 20 million riel ($5000) and receive up to five years in prison. However, this year the government will be forced to ask the World Trade Organization for a five year extension on their requirement that Cambodia actually enforces the law, because the government is as yet incapable of doing so.
Without a means to develop their own stories and their own voice, today’s comics artists in Cambodia must patch together work from book covers, illustrations for children’s books, and the like. All fine work, but fundamentally these are about telling others’ stories. This is true also of the work done for NGOs, no matter how helpful that work is in educating the people about various issues. What is needed is a space in which Cambodians can tell their own stories, experimenting with old and new methods of visually representing and narrating everyday life in Cambodia. The current situation regarding copyright law risks the permanent loss of this important artistic heritage.

Popular Culture conference in Oslo

•March 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

What can we learn about social transformations from popular culture? In what ways does popular culture offer insight into the sites and mechanisms of social change? What is the relationship between pop cultural expressions and social structure, and what methodological considerations should we be particularly aware of?

In order to answer some of these questions we are happy to invite you to an international two-day conference in Oslo on 4-5 October 2012, entitled “Popular Culture and Social Transformation”.

The aim of the conference is through a variety of sessions and topics to address how popular culture is not only a mirror of society, but also a crucial element of power.

Keynote speakers: Simon Lindgren and Jason Dittmer.

The deadline for abstracts is 2 May, 2012.

The call for papers is available here:
http://www.uio.no/kultrans/aktuelt/konferanser/popular/cfp/

For more information about the conference, please visit:
http://www.uio.no/kultrans/aktuelt/konferanser/popular/

The conference is hosted by the interdisciplinary research program Kultrans.

Helge Jordheim
Academic Director
KULTRANS
University of Oslo

Audun Solli
Research fellow
KULTRANS / Centre for Development and the Environment University of Oslo

Hans Erik Næss
Research fellow
KULTRANS / Department of Sociology and Human Geography University of Oslo

New book published

•January 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Book cover

A must for any media geographer and independent filmmaker. Please ask your library to purchase a copy today.
Kathy McCurdy. 2011. Shooting On Location: The Logistics of Filming on Location, Whatever Your Budget or Experience. Focal Press: Burlington: MA. ISBN 978-0-240-81497.

Two new editions of Aether: The Journal of Media Geography

•October 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Two New Editions of Aether: The Journal of Media Geography

Aether: The Journal of Media Geography

Volume Eight A: September 2011

Current articles on the relationship of media and geography including a discussion on the work of Donna Haraway. Also featuring Harald Bauder’s deconstruction of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Rabbit/Duck and Marcia England’s insight into SuicideGirls.com.

Rabbit and Duck

Harald Bauder

SuicideGirls

Marcia England

The Pain and Exultation of Representing Place

Joshua P. Ewalt

Cyborg Spaces and Monstrous Places

Wilson, Hockey, Craine, Fawcett, Oberhauser, Roe and Warkentin

Interpreting the City

April Lindgren

Book Review: City of Rhetoric

Ron Davidson

 

Volume Eight B: September 2011

The power of representation, as Debord understood so well, is not so much in what it portrays, but in what it conceals – and today media undoubtedly is the most powerful adjudicator and disseminator of what is to be shown and what is to be hidden. It is in this context that this special issue on media geography and the Middle East can be best understood.

The Middle of Where?

Giorgio Hadi Curti (Guest Editor)

Frank Miller’s 300

Murat Es

Nationality Undefined

Linda Quiquivix and Giorgio Hadi Curti

Bellydancing, Bombs, and Back Beats

Maytha Alhassen

The Face of Danger

Karen Culcasi and Mahmut Gokmen

From Cyberspace to The World

El Hadi Jazairy

A Note of Remembrance of Mahmut Gokmen

Necati Anaz and Karen Culcasi

AAG CFP: Geographies of Media

•July 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Call for Papers
Geographies of Media
Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
2012 AAG Annual Meeting, New York, February 24th – 28th Last Day for Session Registration: September 28, 2011
Please note that sessions will likely fill earlier than the final deadline.

Sponsored by Aether: The Journal of Media Geography

We are seeking papers that examine geographies of cinema, television, music, art, advertising, the Internet, newspapers and magazines, video and animation etc.  These sessions should include contributions to current issues surrounding these media, beginning with constructions of space & place, cultural, society, and identity.
We are hoping to present a wide range of both topic and context and seek participants interested in the geographical implications – social, political, cultural, and economic – that are often contained within the spaces and places of different forms of media. Media extend beyond their original form and so papers should also envision these geographies as part of a broader industrial and political complex in which culture is an economic commodity set within the broader frame of a global and postmodern era, and with the links between these realms and our daily lived experiences, from our cities to streets to living rooms to imaginations. These contexts invite inquiries into the production, distribution, exhibition, and consumption of all types of media and we encourage critical, pedagogical and discursive contributions. We would also welcome inquiries from anyone wishing to assemble a special themed session or act as a discussant in a session.
To present a paper you must do the following before September 28, 2011:
1. Compose an abstract following the AAG guidelines
2.  Register online with the AAG to obtain a personal ID number
3.  Email Presenter Identification Number (PIN) and abstract to:
Chris Lukinbeal (chris.lukinbeal@arizona.edu)

For further information please contact:
• Chris Lukinbeal
• Jim Craine (jwc53531@csun.edu)
• Jason Dittmer (j.dittmer@ucl.ac.uk)