Precarious Aesthetics Conference



Last October BCNM invited scholars from around the world to come together and explore the complexity of the image and representation in the digital age. Ian Bryce Jones (De Paul University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and Linda Liu (University of Massachusetts, Boston) have released the most recent version of the papers they presented at Precarious Aesthetics. Jones’ piece examines the videogame player as a viewer and subsequent aesthetic interaction within a virtual world while Liu’s paper explores the appeal and digital evolution of found-footage horror.


Ian Bryce Jones – “A Generous Gestalt: The labor of letting-be in Phil Solomon’s In Memoriam: Mark LaPore and Psalm IV”


Linda Liu – “Mortal Cameras and Vulnerable Vision in Found-Footage Horror”




BCNMers got to explore the complexity of image and representation in the digital age at Precarious Aesthetics this year. Check out what people had to say about the conference and photos from it below.


2015 Precarious Aesthetics



The first batch of papers from the 2015 Precarious Aesthetics Conference is now online! You can read excerpts from the paper below and also click the paper titles to read the full text of the documents! Featured papers are by Arild Fetveit, Matt Applegate, Emilie Vergé, and James Hansen.


Introduction to the Conference by Arild Fetveit


A certain curiosity has brought us together here. A curiosity articulated by Wittgenstein in the form of the question: Is it … always an advantage to replace an unsharp picture by a sharp one? Isn’t the unsharp one often exactly what we need (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §71)? I imagine the actuality of this question to be there as long as humans use and engage with images. Does the question have pertinence today? I think so…


Glîtchéd in †ranslation by Matt Applegate


In 2006, Marino theorized CCS as a sub-discipline of (DH, software studies,
media archaeology, etc.) with reference, and in some instances by contrast, to an aesthetics of code made manifest by figures like John Cayley and Mez Breeze. In his article, simply titled “Critical Code Studies,” Marino is concerned with the functionality and efficiency of code, an aesthetic problem on his view, but he is also concerned with how code manifests as an aesthetic object…


Decomposition as Composition: Analog Experimental Film and the Physico-Chemical Processes by Emilie Vergé


As early as 1950, Jean Isidore Isou in his avant-garde film Venom and Eternity, claims: “I think that my film will contribute firstly a new technique of the image, chiseled or rotten photography.” He explains: “Remember the Marquis de Sade’s relations with women. The divine Marquis knew so many dames! In his search for the unknown, he reached a special kind of love known as perversion. The more the woman was ugly, toothless and disgusting the more she excited him and pleased him in love…


Blurry Ghosts: Luther Price and the Slide Projector by James Hansen


A slide projector sits alone in the center of a room. It rests on an elevated stand, beaming a strange 35mm slide onto a white wall. A series of sprocket holes cross horizontally along the top edge of the frame: three sprockets at the top left and another two at the top right. In the center, a strip rips vertically down the frame, violently separating the left and right sections. However, there are two more sprocket holes at the bottom center of the frame…


————————————–ORIGINAL POST————————————


Astrid K-510x200

Is it … always an advantage to replace an indistinct picture by a sharp one? Isn’t the indistinct one often exactly what we need? (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §71)


 Technological advances strive for greater clarity and resolution, but visuals that counteract such perfection with blur, noise, and non-transparent filters are ever more popular. They invite us to see the world, but through a lens that obstructs our vision to dazzling effect. Operating at the mercy of bodies and technologies that are unstable and liable to fail, this mediation is ever-more precarious. Join us as we interrogate the historical, theoretical, and philosophical implications of precarious aesthetics.


Keynote speakers include: Tom Gunning, University of Chicago; Christine Ross, McGill University; Abigail De Kosnik, UC Berkeley; Jeffrey Skoller, UC Berkeley; Jacob Gaboury, Stony Brook University; W. J. T. Mitchell, University of Chicago


For more information and to register for this incredible program, visit:


You can see the original call for papers here.


The conference is hosted by the Berkeley Center for New Media in collaboration with the Department of Film & Media at UC Berkeley and the research project The Power of the Precarious Aesthetic at The Department of Media, Cognition and Communication at the University of Copenhagen.