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Media Fields 2: INFRASTRUCTURES

A conference hosted by graduate students in the Department of Film and
Media Studies,
University of California, Santa Barbara
April 9-10, 2009


Keynote Speaker: Brian Larkin, Associate Professor and Chair of
Anthropology, Barnard College, Columbia University, author of Signal
and Noise: Media, Infrastructure, and Urban Culture in Nigeria (Duke
University Press, 2008), co-editor of Media Worlds: Anthropology on
New Terrain (University of California Press, 2002)


The 2007 Media Fields conference gathered students and scholars to
reflect upon how their projects related to the idea of the field in
the epistemological and environmental registers of the term. In April
2009, a second Media Fields conference will hone in on the more
specific idea of infrastructures. If a field is an expanse of space,
infrastructures are skeletal and map out interactions, relations, and
orders of elements in such a space.


Recent work on media by scholars such as Brian Larkin, Lisa Parks,
Jonathan Sterne, and Zhang Zhen points to the import of
infrastructures in relation to the study of material spaces,
representations, and practices associated with filmgoing, piracy, satellite
footprints, globalization, and urbanization. Media Fields:
Infrastructures aims to build upon such work and to consider how the
term infrastructure offers a rubric with which to extend the
conceptual radius of film and media studies in different directions.
How might perspectives from the humanities inform thought about media
and infrastructures? And how might media and cultural studies benefit
from perspectives generated in social sciences and environmental
design?


You might consider the following types of projects and ideas:

--Opening up the metaphoricity of infrastructures. How might media
studies be able to appropriate concepts, languages, and practices
related to infrastructures? What are infrastructures of media
(scripts? shots?), what infrastructures of language do we use to
understand media, and how might these questions lead to new
disciplinary trajectories?

--Media as they serve as infrastructures of the nation (national
monuments, icons, and media spectacles), of global transitions (call
centers, satellite footprints, media industries and regulations), of
developmental paradigms (the IMF, World Expos) of the body (medical
imagery, x-rays), of travel (in-flight entertainment, billboards), and
of security (emergency services, the Patriot Act).

--Examinations of the material infrastructures of media systems such
as wired and wireless networks, routers, DVD cases, archives, or movie
theaters, as well as infrastructures which support media practices.
For example, how might understanding the infrastructures of media
piracy entail considerations of databases, undersea cables, copyright,
code, and/or video stores? How are media infrastructures such as these
represented or visualized?

--In expanding the notion of infrastructure beyond material objects,
one can consider how social and cultural practices might function as
media infrastructure—think for example of film exhibitions, public art
demonstrations, as well as the role of less material infrastructures
(grammar, code). How might one study infrastructures of a text or a
website? How might one define an aesthetics of infrastructures?


The scope of this conference is interdisciplinary. We invite paper
submissions and project proposals (eg., films, models, installations)
from graduate students, faculty, and practitioners.


**Please submit abstracts or project proposals of 300 words or less to
[log in to unmask] by January 30, 2009.**


--
Athena Tan
PhD Student
Department of Film and Media Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara
[log in to unmask]

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Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite
http://www.ScreenSite.org