Chair: Dr Jill Murphy (University College Cork)

Room: G27b, O’Rahilly Building (ORB), UCC

Edmundo Cordeiro (Universidade Lusófona, Lisbon)

ABSTRACT: In Vanda’s Room Horse Money
The Powers of Film in the Digital Era

From In Vanda’s Room (2000), his decisive work, to Horse Money (2014), Pedro Costa’s films are first of all based on a ‘will to art’ that delves deep in the artistic essence of the cinematographic image. When Gilles Deleuze talks in Cinéma 2 about digital images, he says something that one could link with the work of Pedro Costa, and which implies the transformations of the cinematographic medium: “The new automatism is worthless in itself if it is not put in the service of a powerful, obscure, condensed will to art, aspiring to deploy itself through involuntary movements which nonetheless do not restrict it (…) digital images will have to be based on still another will to art, or on as yet unknown aspects of the time-image.” And, in a note, Deleuze adds: “Sometimes an artist, becoming aware of the death of the will to art in a particular medium, confronts ‘challenge’ by a use which is apparently destructive of that medium.” (Cinéma 2, p.347-348) Of course, artists have no pre-existence — artists have to create themselves through what they do themselves. Pedro Costa brought Vanda and Zita (persons and characters) to cinema, but later in In Vanda’s Room it’s the other way round: he spent a long time with the people there and he listened to them, and this in a kind of artistic inner connection to Andy Warhol’s Beauty nº2. And then we have Colossal Youth (2006) and Horse Money, two of his subsequent films, and one must highlight the seriality and the monumentality built since Depth on Earth (1994): all films linked together in a mythical articulation, a sort of solid world parallel to the world, which questions both our world and the art of film. I will particularly focus my paper on these new digital ways of storytelling and approach to our world and our present time — ways that are not only based on, but also creates the new powers of film.

Bibliographical references:

— AAVV (2010). Letters From Fontaínhas. Three Films By Pedro Costa. The Criterion Collection — which includes:

*«Rooms For The Living And The Dead», by Cyril Neyrat

*«Studyin’ The Rain (Notes)», by Ricardo Matos Cabo

*«The Space Between», by Luc Sante

*«A Band Of Outsiders», by Thom Andersen

*«Songs In The Key Of Lisbon Life», by Mark Peranson


Daniel Fitzpatrick (NUI Galway)

ABSTRACT: How to Defend Cinema’s Specificity
in Light of the Ongoing Prospect of its Obsolescence

Most of the recent threats facing cinema and its possible futures have been described in relation to the shift from analogue to digital. Given this threat there are typically two possibilities we are presented with- death or transcendence, both governed by teleological reasoning. The first prospect is that described by Susan Sontag or Godfrey Chesire, a prognosis rooted in the apparent inseparability of cinema and film. In contrast to this we find the more optimistic outlook of media theorists like Lev Manovich for whom the ‘digital turn’ grants cinema the possibility of a transformation so totalising that it would become something else entirely. In coming to terms with these recent shifts and with the benefit of hindsight our understanding of cinema has grown increasingly porous and the terminology we use to understand cinema’s shifting ontologies have shifted to incorporate terms like ‘apparatus’ and ‘dispositif’ as we continue to struggle to comprehend fully ‘what cinema is’ in light of a ruptural paradigm which has tended to favour one aspect over the other. How in the face of these shifts then do we reaffirm cinema’s essential specificity? What this paper will propose is that we rely instead on an understanding of cinema defined as both ‘artefact and event’. This was the understanding proposed by the artist and filmmaker Peter Kubelka, the understanding adopted by the practices of the Austrian Film Museum.

In redefining cinema in these terms we uncover possible futures beyond the teleological requirements of death or transcendence. We uncover for cinema a more ‘plastic’ future, a future which has the capacity to change and be changed and in doing so we help retemporalise our object of study.

Sean Tavers (University College Cork)

ABSTRACT: Who is the Creator?
The Evolving Role of the Viewer in Contemporary Cinema, Postmodern Film and Interactive Media

According to Jean-Francois Lyotard, the postmodern condition is characterised by ‘incredulity towards metanarratives’, meaning, skepticism towards the once unquestioned, over-arching grand narratives which purport to explain how the world works. Through this theory of the end of metanarratives, Lyotard develops his own version of what tends to be a consensus among theorists of the postmodern: postmodernity as an age of fragmentation, pluralism and multiplicity. In the current postmodern age then, universal truth is rejected in favour of truths plural that are particular to a society or groups of people and limited to individual perception. In other words, we find an overall shift from objective truth to subjective truth.

Given this mode of thinking, cinema has not ‘died’ but has instead evolved to suit the postmodern viewer and such perspectives. Specifically, what is evident is an evolution in the viewer’s position from passive recipient unquestioningly receiving the narrative they are presented with, to a more active participant with varying degrees of control over the content and meaning of the film. From formally experimental postmodern film to new methods of storytelling via interactive media (for example, visual novels, video games and ‘polls’ on social media which literally invite viewers to vote and determine certain aspects of the narrative), there has been a gradual increase in the level of ‘audience participation’ in contemporary cinema. Through close textual analysis, this paper examines the ways in which postmodern films and interactive media provides audiences with increasing opportunities to both interpret and engage with them, thereby positioning the audience as co-creators of narratives and keeping cinema ‘more alive than ever, more multi-faceted’ in the postmodern age.