*CALL FOR PAPERS:*

**

*Spiral /Film and Philosophy/ Conference 2019**:*

**

*It’s Alive! *

*Film / Form / Life***

**

*Toronto, Canada*

*May 17-18, 2019*

On the walls of the Chauvet cave in France, drawings of animals dating 
back to 30,000 years are represented with additional sets of legs. 
Recently, it was suggested that far from being naïve mistakes, these 
additional limbs were meant to represent life forms in movement. 
Thousands of years later, Étienne-Jules Marey’s chronophotography 
attempted to capture animated life by decomposing its movement in 
discrete images. In 2013, /National Geographic/ published a short video 
of a sprinting cheetah recorded with a Phantom camera filming at 1200 
frames per second. The engine for cinema’s genesis, it appears, is 
closely intertwined with the challenge of giving form to animated life.

It is no coincidence that the recent mutations reshaping both how movies 
are being made and experienced are taking place right at the moment when 
a geological age radically transformed by human activities for thousands 
of years is finally being granted its own name: the anthropocene. The 
relentless recreation of the world has for long been the concern of 
artistic expression, from animation in the paleolithic age, to attempts 
by early cinema at decomposing life’s movement, to the most recent feats 
by ground breaking digital technologies redefining the realm of vision. 
Ongoing mutations in the ways in which we experience a world itself 
perpetually changing demand that we constantly come up with new forms of 
expression. From this perspective, life itself seems currently suspended 
in the tension between what George Bataille once called the “formless” 
and the desire (if not the need) to give a sensible and intelligible 
form to our lives. Life forms, far from being fixed, increasingly appear 
to be in flux, transitioning from one state to another, through genetic 
cloning and digital simulation.

This year’s Spiral /Film and Philosophy/ conference wants to examine how 
cinema has been and may very well still be teetering on the threshold of 
that which is yet without a recognizable form — the unsayable, but also 
the untamed: what exists beyond regimes of traditional representation — 
and the reproduction of recognizable forms of life. As such, this call 
for papers is open to but also extends beyond the mere cinematic capture 
and representation of life. It welcomes contributions about filming 
life, including but not limited to:

•recent breakthroughs in 3D cinematic rendering of previously invisible 
molecular activities;

•“cartoon physics”and animation (including puppetry, claymation, 
stop-motion, etc.);

•micro-cinematography experiments and time-lapsed representation of 
vegetable life;

•data visualization of population transformation and movement 
(migration, etc.);

•Muybridge’s and Marey’s motion studies to early scientific cinema;

•medical deployments of photography and the cinematic image;

•life, movement and death of cyberbody, digital organisms;

•life under neoliberal capitalism, accelerationist aesthetics;

•cinema and automatism (Bazin, Cavell, Surrealism, etc.);

•biological (science-)fictions (Painlevé, Cousteau, etc.);

•machine vision, drone vision, surveillance cinema;

•imaginary monsters, monstrous imaginaries;

•environmental disasters, the chthulucene;

•posthuman life and the anthropocene;

•sensory ethnography, haptic cinema;

•afrofuturist depictions of life;

•live cinema, interactive TV;

•metamorphosing bodies;

•queer animation;

•biopolitical cinema.

We invite participants to think forms of life as being more than the 
mere subject of a cinematic regime of representation. What would it 
entail, for example, to think of cinema itself as a form of life in 
constant flux, resisting any definitive spectacular commodification? 
More to the point, what would it mean to think of a kinetic animation of 
form — or style, or /ethos /— as being radically inseparable from its 
content? Could “cinema” be more than an objectified /mise-en-scène/, but 
the designation for an ensemble of living practices and technics taking 
place in a specific but ever-changing environment?

We also welcome papers that engage with the work of specific 
philosophers and theorists who think about forms of life and philosophy 
from a variety of perspectives and further relate them to questions of 
cinema and media studies. We also welcome filmmakers, media 
practitioners, and activists to present and discuss their work.

The confirmed Keynote Speaker is Deborah Levitt, Assistant Professor of 
Culture & Media Studies at The New School, in New York City. She is the 
author of /The Animatic Apparatus: Animation, Vitality, and the Futures 
of the Image/ (Zero Books, 2018), and has published articles and 
interviews in /Waking Life: Kino zwischen Technik und Leben/, 
/Inflexions: A Journal of Research-Creation, The Scholar and Feminist 
Online, Acting and Performance in Moving Image Culture: Bodies, Screens, 
and Renderings/, /The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory 2010/, 
and /The Agamben Dictionary/, among others.

The conference will be held in Toronto, Canada May 17-18, 2019.

Please send a 300-word abstract, brief bibliography, and bio (with 
institutional affiliation, if applicable) in one document as an email 
attachment to [log in to unmask] by January 15, 2018. 
Notifications about acceptance or rejection of proposal will be sent 
promptly.

*Conference Registration Fee:*

Conference Attendance: $100 (Canadian)

Graduate Students and Underemployed: $50 (Canadian)

Conference website: spiralfilmphilosophy.ca <http://spiralfilmphilosophy.ca>

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/310877736175463/

Organized by the /Spiral Film and Philosophy Collective/ in 
collaboration with the department of Cinema and Media Studies, York 
University.

*Selected Bibliography:*

[na] “Bio–Cinema Verité?” /Nature Methods/ 9, no. 12 (December 2012): 1127.

Campbell, Timothy C. /The Techne of Giving: Cinema and the Generous Form 
of Life/. Fordham University, 2017.

Canales, Jimena. “Dead and Alive: Micro-Cinematography between Physics 
and Biology.” /Configurations/ 23, no. 2 (September 17, 2015): 235–51.

Casarino, Cesare. “Three Theses on the Life-Image (Deleuze, Cinema, 
Biopolitics).” In /Releasing the Image: From Literature to New Media/, 
edited by Jacques Khalip and Robert Mitchell. Stanford University Press, 
2011.

Coccia, Emanuele. /Sensible Life: A Micro-Ontology of the Image/. New 
York: Fordham University Press, 2016.

Corliss, John O. “A Salute to Fifty-Four Great Microscopists of the 
Past: A Pictorial Footnote to the History of Protozoology. Part I.” 
/Transactions of the American Microscopical Society/ 97, no. 4 (1978): 
419–58.

Gaycken, Oliver. /Devices of Curiosity: Early Cinema and Popular 
Science/. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Helmreich, Stefan. “What Was Life? Answers from Three Limit Biologies.” 
/Critical Inquiry/ 37, no. 4 (2011): 671–96.

Helmreich, Stefan, and Sophia Roosth. “Life Forms: A Keyword Entry.” 
/Representations/ 112, no. 1 (November 1, 2010): 27–53.

Lamarre, Thomas. /The Anime Ecology: A Genealogy of Television, 
Animation, and Game Media/. University of Minnesota Press, 2018.

Landecker, Hannah. “Cellular Features: Microcinematography and Film 
Theory.” /Critical Inquiry/ 31, no. 4 (June 1, 2005): 903–37.

Landecker, Hannah. “Seeing Things: From Microcinematography to Live Cell 
Imaging.” Comments and Opinion. Nature Methods, October 1, 2009.

Lawrence, Michael, and Laura McMahon, eds. /Animal Life and the Moving 
Image/. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Lebovic, Nitzan. “The Biopolitical Film (A Nietzschean Paradigm).” 
/Postmodern Culture/ 23, no. 1 (2012).

Levitt, Deborah. “Animating Biophilosophy: Animation and the Medium of 
Life: Media Ethology, An-Ontology, Ethics.” /Inflexions/, no. 7 (n.d.): 
118–61.

Levitt, Deborah. /The Animatic Apparatus: Animation, Vitality, and the 
Futures of the Image/. Zero Books, 2018.

Muhle, Maria. “Imitation of Life: Biopolitics and the Cinematographic 
Image.” /Fillip/ 17 (2012).

Pick, Anat. “Animal Life in the Cinematic /Umwelt/.” In /Animal Life and 
the Moving Image/, edited by Michael Lawrence and Laura McMahon. 
Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Pollmann, Inga. “Invisible Worlds, Visible: Uexküll’s Umwelt, Film, and 
Film Theory.” /Critical Inquiry/ 39, no. 4 (June 1, 2013): 777–816.

Pollmann, Inga. /Cinematic Vitalism: Film Theory and the Question of 
Life/. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018.

Schwartz, Louis-Georges. “Cinema and the Meaning of ‘Life.’” /Discourse/ 
28, no. 2 (2006): 7–27.

Stiegler, Bernard. “The Organology of Dreams and Arche-Cinema.” 
Translated by Daniel Ross. /The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics/ 47 (2014): 
7–37.

Tarizzo, Davide. /Life A Modern Invention/. Translated by Mark William 
Epstein. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017.

Thacker, Eugene. /Biomedia/. Minneapolis, Minneapolis: University of 
Minnesota Press, 2004.

Zewail, Ahmed H. “Micrographia of the Twenty-First Century: 
From Camera Obscura to 4D Microscopy.” /Philosophical Transactions. 
Series A, Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences/ 368, no. 
1914 (March 13, 2010): 1191–1204.


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