Revisited: Medium/Environment

02 May, 2018

Revisited: Medium/Environment

The Berkeley Center for New Media was pleased to co-sponsor the Berkeley Film & Media’s fourth annual international conference took place from April 27-28, primarily in 142 Dwinelle Hall. With speakers hailing from Paris to Frankfurt to New York, the conference encapsulated a thorough investigation of how “environmental media” can be broadly conceived.

Weihong Bao, UC Berkeley associate professor of the Film & Media and East Asian Languages & Culture departments, offered the welcoming remarks. Bao said this conference was a metacritical exercise of sorts, thinking about the ways in which the field can collaborate with social and natural sciences and, thus, create more tangible consequences of their work.

The first panel of this event, “Medium Archaeology,” saw Antonio Somaini and Francesco Casetti take the floor — moderated by Bao.

Somaini’s talk, “Towards an Archaeology of the Concept of Medium: Light, Energy, and Atmosphere in the Work of László Moholy-Nagy,” disseminated light as a medium and an ideology of dematerialization. Somaini’s book project looked at the historical stages in which elemental, environmental, and atmospheric understandings of the concept “medium” has affected discourse.

He studied Moholy-Nagy’s pieces, such as Fotogrammen, and broke down Moholy-Nagy’s light techniques and composition, which were used to portray the relationship between art and technology.

Casetti’s dialogue about “Screenscapes: Modes of Working and Modes of Changing,” touched upon the definition and place of a screen, as well as the process of individualization. He used cinema as an example, describing it as a depiction of the world within a dedicated space, characterized by comfort, safety, and full visibility.

The rest of the day centered around topics such as infrastructure and virtual reality. After a brief lunch break, conference participants moved to the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive for a VR demonstration of Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen’s “Aquaphobia” and screenings of various shorts.

On April 28, another day of panels returned to 142 Dwinelle, continuing with discussions on the nuclearcene, surroundings, technology, and audibility. Speakers such as UC Berkeley’s very own Dan O’Neill, Florian Spenger, Tung-Hui Hu, Anna McCarthy, and Reinhold Martin pondered over questions of media, exclusion zones, technopoesis, linguistics, and more.

The conference received major funding from Berkeley Arts + Design and was co-sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities, BAMPFA, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Center for Chinese Studies, the Gender and Transpacific Faculty Working Group, and more.

Visit the official conference website for more information here.

2018 Medium/Environment Conference