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*5th Spiral Film and Philosophy Conference “Interruptions” Toronto, 
Canada May 8-9, 2020*
**

In a recent essay examining the imperial legacy of the camera, Teju Cole 
writes of the camera as a weapon: “When we speak of ‘shooting’ with a 
camera, we are acknowledging the kinship of photography and violence.” 
Three decades earlier, Toni Morrison asserted in her Nobel Lecture: 
“Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; 
does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge.” 
Both propositions share the same ideas, yet they demand further 
examination. Cole’s comment on the relationship between photography and 
violence was made by a practitioner of photography. Morrison’s 
observation on the relationship between language and violence was 
brought to our attention by a novelist. In each case, the writer focuses 
on the material /and/ social issues intrinsic to the use of a specific 
medium of expression. Refusing to look past the material and social 
conditions of expression, these two interventions allow us to imagine 
and to explore new, subversive paths of creation and criticism. It not a 
coincidence that Cole’s first essay on photography is entirely informed 
by the concept of the blind spot. And it is not a coincidence that 
Morrison’s speech, too, invokes a conjunction of blindness and 
knowledge: “Once upon a time there was an old woman. Blind. Wise.” In 
each case, the creation of images and thoughts stems from a joyous 
failure to comply and an imaginative refusal to go along. The work of 
art conjured in this process is one of generative interruption. In his 
study of the black radical tradition in poetry and music, /In the 
Break/, furthermore, Fred Moten has written of the interruptive power of 
such a poetics: “The history of blackness is testament to the fact that 
objects can and do resist. Blackness — the extended movement of a 
specific upheaval, an ongoing irruption that /anarranges/ every line — 
is a strain that pressures the assumption of the equivalence of 
personhood and subjectivity.” Moten’s notion of “anarrangment” speaks 
here to the simultaneously disruptive and productive potential of paying 
attention to the social and material conditions of aesthetic forms and 
the radical potentiality inside aesthetic responses to such conditions. 
Both film and philosophy have participated and still participate in 
sustaining systemic oppression. This has taken both overt and covert 
forms of violence and exclusion — each perpetuating the policing of what 
counts as compelling questions to ask, what forms of knowledge matter, 
who is heard and seen, and under what conditions and where a subject can 
appear. And yet, if film has the ability to do philosophy, to question 
itself and its limitations and possibilities, and to pose new problems 
for philosophy, then perhaps film also has the potential to challenge 
its own imperial and oppressive habits and conditions as well. In a 
hegemonic context, the interruption of dominant ways of thinking and 
showing allows for alternative modes of knowledge and imagination, 
subjectivity and being, to emerge. Christina Sharpe, in her recent study 
/In the Wake/, makes a compelling case for what she calls the analytic 
of “wake work,” a theory and a praxis that turns on the imagination’s 
ability to /imagine otherwise/ with and against rupture. Alongside 
Cole’s and Morrison’s important points, in Moten’s and Sharpe’s work we 
discern a certain interruptive gesture that refuses the /work/ of 
normative canons and formations of knowledge, an aesthetics and politics 
of interruption that can both expose the ideological underpinnings and 
assumptions of institutional conjunctions like film and philosophy and 
contribute to new possibilities and spaces for (re)arranging 
subjectivities, communities, and the very legacies and practices of such 
institutions themselves.

For its 5th edition, the Spiral Film and Philosophy conference wants to 
bring the /potential/ of interruption to the forefront. It proposes to 
do so at the confluence of three areas: the epistemological, the 
political, and the aesthetic. What happens to ideas and forms when the 
imagination stumbles? What kinds of resistance emerge when traditional 
representation breaks down? Which modes of belonging do we share when 
the spectacle is suddenly interrupted? What happens when the dynamics of 
domination — in aesthetic, formal, durational, spatial, psychological, 
historical, etc. terms — are rendered inoperative? In the spirit of 
these questions, we challenge all participants to go above and beyond 
the common idea according to which it is “easier to imagine an end to 
the world than an end to capitalism.” We contend that cinema and moving 
images have value, even and especially when they do not work as 
intended, as programmed, or as expected; when they fail, stutter or 
stammer; when they confuse their objects, miss their targets, or 
(suddenly or gradually) fall apart. As such, this call for papers is 
open to but also extends beyond the experience of cinematic rupture. 
Spiral welcomes contributions for 20-minute presentations from scholars, 
artists and practitioners whose work pertains to topics and themes of 
interruptive and inoperative cinema, but also (and not limited to):

  * Postcolonial cinema
  * Towards a destituent cinema
  * Sabotaging the imperial gaze
  * Camera obscura and ideology
  * Militant cinema and activist cinema
  * Evasive cinema and mass surveillance
  * Images moving beyond the Western canon
  * Decommodification and the movie industry
  * Visibility and invisibility: filming the blind spot
  * Anarchaeological practices and the audio-visual
  * Pictures resisting productivity in neoliberal regimes
  * Indigeneity and visual culture in Canada and elsewhere
  * The subversive value of catastrophic failures in visual media
  * Reclaiming speculative vision in the age of the Anthropocene
  * “Anarranging” film grammars and representational economies
  * Failure in algorithmic cinemas and the value of digital artifacts
  * Breaking the status quo regarding representations of climate crisis
  * The virtues of failure in cinematic experimentation and in visual art
  * Queer and trans approaches to cinema aesthetics, history and politics
  * Afrofuturism and indigenous futurism and the reframing of
    science-fiction
  * Alternative imaginaries and histories of cinema as reconfigured
    through radical politics

The confirmed Keynote Speaker is Elizabeth Reich, Assistant Professor, 
Film & Media Studies, in the Department of English at the University of 
Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on the intersections of Black Studies, 
digital media, Afrofuturism, and social movements in historical, global, 
and transnational contexts. She is author of Militant Visions: Black 
Soldiers, /Internationalism and the Transformation of American Cinema/ 
(Rutgers, 2016) and her coedited collection, Justice in Time: Critical 
Afrofuturism and the Struggle for Black Freedom, is under contract at 
University of Minnesota Press. She is also coeditor of “New Approaches 
to Cinematic Identification,” a special issue of /Film Criticism/. Her 
next monograph is on time and reparation, and recent essays have 
appeared in /ASAP Journal/, /Film Criticism/, /Screen/, /Post45/, 
/ASAP/J/, /World Records Journal/, and /African American Review/. She is 
also a contributing editor to /ASAP/J/ and serves on the editorial board 
of /Film Criticism/.

The 5th Spiral conference will be held in Toronto, Canada, on Friday, 
May 8 and Saturday, May 9, 2020.

Please send a 350-word abstract, bibliography (5 references max.), 5 
keywords, and biography (with institutional affiliation, if applicable) 
in ONE DOCUMENT and as an EMAIL ATTACHMENT to 
*[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>* 
by Feb. 15, 2020. 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: *@spiralfilmphilosophy*

Organized by the Spiral Collective in collaboration with the Department 
of Cinema and Media Studies, York University.






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