Book Review: From Méliès to New Media: Spectral Projections

Reviewed by Amy Ione, August 2020
Leonardo Reviews, https://www.leonardo.info/review/2020/08/from-melies-to-new-media-spectral-projections

From Méliès to New Media: Spectral Projections is an exploration of the presence and importance of film history in contemporary digital culture. Using a media archaeology approach, the author, Wendy Haslem, aims to demonstrate that innovative new media forms are not only indebted to, but firmly embedded within the traditions and conventions of early film culture. Throughout the book Haslem presents an array of projects that deftly move through topics, like indexicality, semiotics, memory, and digital restoration to light, materiality/immateriality, creative experimentation, time and obsolescence. While the overall goal is to introduce a new language of cinema and an alternative approach to historiography, the net result is a good start but falls short. The study is strongest and most original when presenting contemporary projects and examples of spectacle. Haslem tells us:

“Many of the films that I explore in this book favour spectacle over realism, some prioritize non-linear, experimental narration over linear, classical narrative form. Many of the older (and some of the newer) films exhibit surfaces etched with markers of time, and as such, they provide a rich surface aesthetic to encounter and explore. My approach to writing on film has always been to try to explore the surface of the film itself. That means prioritizing the aesthetic, looking for moments where details of the spectacle reveal history. My tendency is to zoom into surface details, focusing on the traces of celluloid that remain present within a digital ecology. Material detail, surface, aesthetic and mise-en-scéne drive my film analysis. This is also an approach that prioritizes the senses. (p. 28)

Continue reading “Book Review: From Méliès to New Media: Spectral Projections”

ChildArt July-September 2020 issue now online

The current issue of ChildArt is now online. This issue is published in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Institutes of Health, and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. You can find it at https://icaf.org/childart/ChildArt_ArtforHealth_July-Sept2020.pdf

Published by the  International Child Art Foundation (ICAF), this group also  produces the World Children’s Festival, which is postponed this year due to Covid-19. It will now take place on July 30th–August 1st, 2021 at The National Mall across from the U.S. Capitol.

As Ashfaq Ishaq, the Founder and Chair of ICAF, points out in the forward to this issue:

“While we rely on science to free us from Covid-19, art opens windows to new vistas and can serve as a mirror for self-improvement.”

Lecture: Working Across Disciplines: Figuring Out How to Figure it Out Together

Working Across Disciplines: Figuring Out How to Figure it Out Together with Tedi Asher and Trevor Smith
Date: Tuesday, August 4, 2020, 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Trevor Smith, Curator of the Present Tense, and Tedi Asher, Neuroscience Researcher, will share their own collaborative experiences at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) to reflect on reciprocity between the arts and sciences in a museum context, processes relevant to cultivating connections (institutionally and interpersonally) between these fields, and the role that field-specific content (e.g. artwork, data), and our experience of that content, can play in mediating such connections and reciprocal exchange.

Register: https://theopenscholar.com/event/tedi-asher-and-trevor-smith

Leonardo Reviews Posted July 2020

Leonardo Reviews is pleased to announce this month’s reviews posting.

Soundtracking Germany: Popular Music and National Identity
by Melanie Schiller
Reviewed by Beate Peter

Planet of the Humans
by Jeff Gibbs, Director; Michael Moore, Executive Producer
Reviewed by George Gessert

History of Stereoscopic Photography: Virtual 3D-Con 2020

Sessions on the History of Stereoscopic Photography at the Virtual 3D-Con 2020, the National Stereoscopic Society

August 14, 2020, 7:30-11:30 a.m., Pacific Time

Free to the Public

Register here:  http://www.3d-con.com/registration.php

New Health Humanities Initiative: CoVid-19: Critical/Creative Studies in Music, Image, and Text

As the outlook surrounding the crisis continues to worsen in the US and around the world, the project carries with it a critical commitment to supporting artists and theorists developing new work and thought responding to the pandemic in real time.

Registration in advance is required, here

Continue reading “New Health Humanities Initiative: CoVid-19: Critical/Creative Studies in Music, Image, and Text”

Book Review of The Seductions of Darwin: Art, Evolution, Neuroscience by Mathew Rampley

Reviewed by Amy Ione, May 2020

It is not surprising that Mathew Rampley’s book, The Seductions of Darwin: Art, Evolution, Neuroscience, caught my eye since the volume touches on a number of topics covered in my own Art and the Brain: Plasticity, Embodiment, and the Unclosed Circle. [1] What did surprise me is that, despite analyzing many of the same subjects (cave painting, evolutionary psychology, art history, neuroaesthetics, neuroarthistory, etc.), the two books are worlds apart, even as we share similar goals. Both of us state that we seek to encourage humanistic thinking and voice reservations about the scientific and philosophical research surrounding art, neuroscience, and evolution. Yet, while I agree with Rampley’s premise that efforts to construct a “unity of knowledge” theory are misconceived, I found that his book read like a polemic, with arguments more along the lines of “not this, not that” than a humanistic probing of the contours of art, evolution, and neuroscience. This reaction is one the author himself acknowledges as possible, writing: “[m]uch of the discussion will come across as polemical in tone” (p. viii) and “[i]t would be reasonable to conclude, given the polemical tone adopted in this book, that I see neo-Darwinian approaches as having little value” (p. 140). Thus, my principal take-away was a humanistic-type question: Why is it that two people who review much of the same range of information can come away worlds apart? He is clear that, “It might be objected that I am relying on a reductive and overly empirical notion of inquiry, one based on the testing of hypotheses, and that this approach is particularly problematic when applied to the humanities” (p. 139); consistent with this statement, I take a more dialogical humanistic type of approach to the issues.

The Seductions of Darwin itself consists of an informative introduction, four chapters, and a conclusion. The bulk of the book outlines what Rampley sees as persistent weaknesses in theories of art that assume (presume) a Darwinian or neuroscientific perspective. What was most prominent within this is that he is looking for a unifying explanatory methodology (despite his claim that efforts to construct “unity of knowledge” theories are flawed). This paradoxical strategy lands him in a space that largely mirrors the theoretical problems inherent in the arguments he rejects.

Continue reading “Book Review of The Seductions of Darwin: Art, Evolution, Neuroscience by Mathew Rampley”

Was Kandinsky a Synaesthete?

Take a look at  Dyedra K. C. Just‘s paper “Was Kandinsky a Synaesthete? Examining His Writings and Other Evidence,” which examines a subject also examined by Amy Ione and Christopher Tyler  in their paper “Was Kandinsky a Synesthete?
Below is the abstract for the D. K. C. Just paper:

Wassily Kandinsky is widely regarded as one of the most prominent examples of a synaesthetic artist. However, in the scientific literature there is disagreement on the genuineness of his synaesthesia. This paper investigates whether Kandinsky had inborn synaesthesia, while acknowledging that there are also types of induced synaesthesia which he may have cultivated. As these two types of synaesthesia are seen to work additively in some synaesthetes and not to be mutually exclusive, this is not seen as an argument against the view that he was a true inborn synaesthete. Whether Kandinsky was a synaesthete is examined through a detailed study of his primary writings (e.g., On the Spiritual in Art, Point and Line to Plane, and Reminiscences), in light of the modern diagnostic criteria. The experiences described in those writings indicate that his synaesthetic perceptions were genuine and inborn and not just a theoretical endeavour. Given the genetic dimension of synaesthesia, this view is further supported by the fact that Kandinsky’s uncle Victor Kandinsky also described having synaesthetic experiences.

Continue reading “Was Kandinsky a Synaesthete?”

Call for Artists: Flathead Lake Biological Station (FLBS) Residencies

Open AIR 2020 Artist-in-Residence Opportunity Spotlight: Summer and Fall sessions available at the Flathead Lake Biological Station (FLBS).

Stay in a quaint cabin.  Learn about the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi with access to researchers, undergrad and grad students, interns, taxonomic collections, analytical Lab, sensor lab, tool shop and more!

Flathead Lake Biological Station, University of Montana is one of the oldest active biological field research stations in the United States. It was established near Bigfork in 1899 by its first director, Dr. Morton J. Elrod, UM Distinguished Professor of Biology. It was moved to Yellow Bay in 1908.

Applications Due: March 1st.

Call for artists! Rising: Climate in Crisis Residencies at A Studio in the Woods

Apply for Rising: Crisis in Climate Residencies by April 13

A Studio in the Woods is now accepting applications for Rising: Climate in Crisis Residencies. The call is open to artists of all disciplines who have demonstrated an established dialogue with environmental and culturally related issues and a commitment to seeking and plumbing new depths. Residencies are 6 weeks, will take place between September 2020 and May 2021, and include a $2500 stipend and $2000 materials budget.

Proposals are due by April 13th and residencies will be awarded by June 12th, 2020. Direct questions to Cammie Hill-Prewitt at info@astudiointhewoods.org.

Continue reading “Call for artists! Rising: Climate in Crisis Residencies at A Studio in the Woods”