This position piece defends an understanding of method as a process of creative invention. The opening section distinguishes between method and methodology in order to problematise the relation between the two. In light of this distinction, the piece then assesses the general value of method’s repetitive operational chains, for instance for purposes of learning and knowledge transmission. Ultimately, the argument affirms the need for a radical openness of creative practices, including research. This is first done through an engagement with Henri Bergson’s method of intuition and then, in the final section, through the notion of metamodeling.
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The year 2019 marked 40 years since the publication of Stars – Richard Dyer’s seminal intervention in film studies which promoted the importance of, and provided a framework for, analysing film stars. The anniversary prompted some reflection on the current state of star studies in a special issue of Celebrity Studies journal and at a […]
In October 2020 the editorial board of NECSUS held an online roundtable discussion to address the special section topic #Method. The initial prompt came from an editorial written by board member Toni Pape. What follows is an edited transcript of the recording of the online roundtable on this topic.
This article contributes to ongoing conversations about how we relate to methods and the implications of the ‘methods turn’ for the different epistemic communities that comprise media studies. We argue that methods are increasingly valued as scientific capital and educational capital, leading to further formalisation of methodologies (or theoretical perspectives) as ordered and sequenced research methods. Although intended to make research more transparent and accessible, such formalisation obfuscates the research process when it hinges on the notion of methods as ‘ordered procedure’. Against this way of imagining and talking about methods, we draw on process theory, which provides a language for understanding research as improvisational and creative, and reconsider what it means to do research skilfully. Understanding methods as process opens up new ways to talk about and teach methods that connect to our inherent capacity for curiosity and to embodied sense-making practices – in other words, it allows for a reframing of research methods as ‘methods we live by’.
Film festivals have long been associated with ephemeral value creation, from the dynamic energy associated with the festival experience to the more static traces of cultural capital that remain once the events are over. This article investigates film festival buzz as it has been conceptualised in film festival studies, and explores existing measurement frameworks drawn from industry stakeholders and federal agencies in the Canadian context. Even though film festival buzz appears to function as an institutional antecedent to consumer buzz in the film value chain, serious methodological dilemmas are raised by the intersecting stakeholder interests that shape knowledge production.
The article focuses on creative research as a practice, a form of making, attending to the making of mistakes – errors, deviations, detours – as the uncertain ground of an emerging methodological paradigm. Our specific focus here is upon media and performance practices. Guided by references to a range of theorists who place mistakes in the centre of their thinking – Russian formalists, Giuliana Bruno, Maurice Blanchot, Tim Erchells, and Tim Ingold – this article explores the potentials for error in method – and the potentials of error as method. We begin by observing a genealogy of mistakes as method in the theories of Russian Formalists, recognising a longstanding fascination with errors and mistakes – ‘mistake as a constructive principle’ for Yuri Tynianov and estrangement for Viktor Shklovsky, then move on to the notion of errare as ‘a map of theoretical and emotional itineraries’ for Bruno. We continue by proposing how these fascinations shape contemporary interdisciplinary methodologies in the humanities, from qualified success to absolute failure. Our preoccupation with error spans every level of creative processes, as mistakes become not only object of enquiry, but a methodological paradigm. The second part of the article focuses on practices that use error as method. In making, practising, performing – in creative research of all kinds – erring is linked to temporality. Practice itself may be recognised as a continuous journey, where method is only ever understood as provisional. In relating such temporalities to philosophical discourses on errors, the article moves towards erring as a contemporary research tool.
In this new issue of NECSUS we present a special section on the topic #Method. This themed section spotlights our reliance on the systems of thought that structure the work of knowledge (re-)production. This work is carried out through writing and teaching, but also through the ever-expanding share of our labour that goes into network […]
by Claire Salles The exhibition Le Supermarché des images (The Supermarket of Images, Jeu de Paume, Paris, 11 February – 16 March 2020) explores the economy of images without reducing it to the funding systems of the production of images. Marta Gili, the former director of Jeu de Paume read Peter Szendy’s essay Le Supermarché […]
Digital images increasingly determine the way people interact with physical space. Combined imaging and sensing technologies register, process, and transmit information about the physical world in real time and make it possible to continuously adapt such images to specific spatio-temporal settings and in relation to motion and perspective. With the ability to integrate situative and customised information in media, like digital maps or virtual reality applications, images also gain in importance for perception and interpretation. Such integration of image, action, and space heralds a new type of visual media described as adaptive images. Based on cases from industrial production, medicine, and psychotherapy as well as from sports and entertainment, the paper addresses their aesthetic, spatial, and operational conditions, and provides a typological survey of adaptive images as a phenomenon, including their respective challenges and implications for image and media theory.
We have tended to think of the documentary as emerging in the early 1920s within the framework of cinema. Yet the documentary tradition possesses a much longer historical trajectory, beginning with public lectures that were illustrated with models and scientific experiments. Appearing in the English-speaking colonies of North America as early as the 1730s, these were a crucial component of the American Enlightenment. The key term was ‘lecture’. Religious groups had used the church-based lecture to communicate the truth of God using the bible as the basis for understanding the world. Appearing in secular venues, these public presentations offered new kinds of truths determined through observation, science, reason and analysis. Creating a new dispositif, they used an increasingly diverse array of illustrative materials – models, charts, demonstrations, paintings, panoramas, reenactments, quotations from literary or musical sources, and even very occasional lantern slides. The term ‘illustrated lecture’ emerged gradually in the 1840s but went through a radical redefinition in the 1870s as the mode merged with the popular but distinct stereopticon exhibition that used photographic lantern slides. By the 1890s and 1900s these illustrated lectures gradually incorporated motion pictures, until many only showed films. When the lecture was replaced by intertitles in the late 1910s, the label ‘illustrated lecture’ became anachronistic and the term ‘documentary’ eventually filled the void.
The term interdisciplinary has achieved ‘buzzword’ status across academic channels in recent years. Interdisciplinary methods of research are often carried out as a matter of import and export; terminology is borrowed from across disciplines by scholars and is then applied in an analytical fashion to whatever case study is at hand. In this article, I will present two case studies that position the essay form and especially the essay film, as privileged sites of interdisciplinarity as praxis. The first example centres on the relationship between illustrious cultural geographer Doreen Massey and filmmaker Patrick Keiller. The second case study focuses on the longstanding relationship between cultural studies luminary Stuart Hall and filmmaker John Akomfrah, before and after his tenure as co-founder of Black Audio Film Collective (1982-1998). These case studies illustrate the intellectual promise of interdiscipinary exchange as praxis, shaped by relations of affinity, reciprocity and duration.
Methodologies for teaching audiovisual essays often map the discipline-specific objectives of the form and the practical and philosophical advantages it offers as a mode of assessment. However, a particular division has emerged between the kind of work created by students and the professional audiovisual criticism circulated by critics and scholars that is considered exemplary of contemporary practice. In this context, the role of the author as a self-reflexive agent can be seen as a link not only between students’ expectations of traditional written assessment and the fundamentally different imperatives of the audiovisual essay as a subjective mode of creative research, but also between audiovisual essay criticism and historical iterations of the essay form. This article explores the extensive redevelopment of a capstone undergraduate subject on audiovisual film criticism, undertaken via a fellowship awarded to develop teaching innovation and enhance curriculum design. We detail major pedagogical interventions, including a return to writing, examine key motivations in the development of course content, and establish the critical significance of encouraging students to think of themselves as authors – that is, to consider their own agency in the ways they encounter, interpret, and utilise images. Reflecting on some outcomes of the redeveloped subject, we pose it as a test case for a pedagogy that encourages students to think ambitiously with images, dissolving divisions between professional audiovisual criticism and audiovisual essays as a method of assessment. We argue that when thinking with images in this manner is embraced as a component of pedagogical methodology, students’ competencies with images can be leveraged to enable work that is academically rigorous, critically sophisticated, and evinces highly subjective authorial agency.
Kuleshov’s montage experiments have arguably been a key impetus for inauguration of film theory. Yet, although cognitivists – and even some continental film philosophers – have long appreciated the importance of neurological and psychological studies for understanding film, they rarely undertake experiments themselves. Instead, the work is primarily done by psychologists with special interest in film. This paper advocates for a deeper engagement with the experimental method in film studies, through design and/or criticism of specific experiments. First, to dispel the longstanding disciplinary skepticism against the method, I propose that arguments against cognitivism as methodologically imperialistic conflate the methods of analytic philosophy and scientific experiment. I then retort to strong (D.N. Rodowick) and moderate skepticism (Malcolm Turvey) about the experimental method. Against the former I argue that 1) some questions in film studies demand experimental answers, and 2) these experiments do not transform film studies into a science of film, and 3) inferences drawn from experiments are not incommensurable with humanistic inquiry. In the latter case I point out that although there is a difference between humanistic and natural phenomena and the principles behind them, there are some principles behind humanistic phenomena which are discoverable through experimental method. Second, to illustrate the importance of the experimental method I draw attention to the fact that a key assumption in film studies – that fiction films change our beliefs about the actual world – is an empirical claim still awaiting experimental proof. I specify how one experiment (co-developed with Ed Tan) testing this assumption might look. I also pay special attention to problems of replicability and representativeness at the crux of the current crisis in psychology. In conclusion, I invite film scholars to a close reading of the proposed experimental design as a way of coming to grips with challenges, opportunities, and the potential blind spots of experimental work.
The Kinomatics project (http://kinomatics.com) is an international, interdisciplinary project applying innovative digital practices to study creative industries, particularly the film industry. Kinomatics uses data-driven tools and methods to examine the social, cultural, and economic ‘relationality’ of film distribution as a complex, overlapping, co-constituting media infrastructure. What is unique to this project is the way we apply the same methods for the study of film circulation to evaluate our own collaboration networks and determine future research opportunities. We produce both research tools and analysis that is focused on intervening in, rather than just describing, the creative industries. Kinomatics derives this recursive approach to method from digital humanities. This article conceptualises our approach with a critical social network analysis of how our own collaborations are structured and open to being reshaped. Being mindful of our multi-disciplinary methods as dispersed ‘teams of teams’ emphasises the relational dimensions of our work. These connections represent a significant interpersonal investment that is not always evident in the formal measurement of academic success, such as co-authorship for example. In researching how cinema operates as a global cultural industry, Kinomatics team members aim to collaborate on a ‘global’ scale themselves, across geographic and disciplinary boundaries. This article will show how our migration across specialities in inter-team collaboration and co-authorship has contributed to new approaches and collaboration dynamics.
Only in recent years has a new awareness about the role of colour in film aesthetics arisen. Several historical accounts of colour in film have appeared, but in 2019 two volumes come as significant contributions to film and media studies: Color Mania and Chromatic Modernity. Color Mania: The Material of Color in Photography and Film (Zurich: […]