Proposed Panel for SCMS Conference, Los Angeles, March 17-21
The Artificial Life of Film: Dolls, Puppets, Automata, and Cyborgs in  

Organizer Names:
Deborah Levitt, Assistant Professor, Culture and Media Studies,
Eugene Lang College, The New School
Allison de Fren, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow,  Ammerman Center for
Arts & Technology, Connecticut College

Summary: From the early films of Georges Méliès, Fritz Lang, and the
Surrealist movement to Blade Runner, Being John Malkovich, Ghost in
the Shell, and Lars and the Real Girl, the cinema has had an enduring
fascination with artificial humans due to their unique ability to
picture the tensions between motion and stasis, animation and
inanimation, humanity and artificiality, the real and the virtual,
and the vital and the mechanical. Artificial bodies have also made
diverse appearances in film theory, from the "spiritual automaton"of
Gilles Deleuze to Roland Barthes' meditations on a cinematic
automaton in Camera Lucida to the broad field of reflections on
cyborgs and/in cinema. This panel seeks to interrogate any or all of
these conjugations of cinema and artificial lives — material and
philosophical, live action or animated, in fiction or documentary. We
are interested in the kinds of performativities engendered by these
ambivalent bodies: their uncanniness, their ontological
destabilizations, their epistemological games of masking and
unmasking. Papers might also consider how artificiality is mobilized
within particular genres or what kinds of meanings accumulate around
artificial bodies in relation to gender or race. We are interested in
how these figures help to construct a new genealogy of audiovisual
culture, one that could illuminate cinema's digital or animatic
present and future, as well as connections to various moments in the
historical long durée of dolls, puppets, and automata.

Please send an abstract of up to 300 words, five key references, and
a brief bio to [log in to unmask] and [log in to unmask] by
August 10th.

Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama: