BIOS AND ABSTRACTS
William Carroll is a third-year PhD student at the University of Chicago’s Department of Cinema and Media Studies. His main research interests include Classical Hollywood Cinema and Japanese Cinema from the 1920s to the 1960s.
In The World Viewed, Stanley Cavell asserts that we read color in cinema as a less realistic form of representation than black and white. Without accepting this as a universal truth, we can observe that there is a tension in the cinema of color between color’s indexical relationship to color in the real world and the expressive or narrative ends to which color is often deployed in cinema. “The Status of Color in Suzuki Seijun’s Narration” will trace Suzuki Seijun’s manipulation of cinematic form as he destabilizes color’s indexicality and transforms it into an overt means for narrative manipulation.
Matthew Hubbell is a PhD student in the department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. He has received an MA from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His interests include French cinema of the Nouvelle Vague and post-Nouvelle Vague generations; the role of gesture, performance, and the body in film; and cinematic figurations of history.
Looking at the films of the Zanzibar group—a loosely aligned band of radical young French filmmakers working in the late ‘60s—“Revolution in Black and White: The Zanzibar Films and the Style of ’68” explores the ways in which the aesthetics of color and tonal palette can come to be freighted with ideological and political significance. In developing what they called “un cinéma violent,” the Zanzibar filmmakers stripped the image to its most elemental properties, reaching towards, at one extreme, the purely white or purely black screen. While this aesthetic operated in dialogue with contemporary work in the neo-avant-garde, including various deployments of the monochromatic canvas, it takes on an intensified political charge in the context of May ’68, as the filmmakers attempted to both incite and respond to an event that promised to create an unprecedented—and perhaps unrepresentable—historical rupture.
Timothy Kaar is a graduate student in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago and also an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Elgin Community College specializing in color theory, design foundations and multimedia.
In 1810, the artist Philip Otto Runge devised his Farbenkugel, or color sphere, which was one of the earliest systematic frameworks to understand color based on a three dimensional model. It was later refined by Ogden Rood and Albert Munsell. This approach can serve as a type of lingua franca to comprehend color regardless of modalities of generation (light, pigments, dyes) or processes of reproduction. More than simply a method of color notation, it is also useful as a guide for practitioners to create color effects, as well as analyze and communicate about them. In “Color Theory to Practice,” an analysis of the color effects evident in Vincente Minnelli’s The Bandwagon (1953) and Stanley Kubrik’s The Shining (1980) will be presented.
Mihaela Mihailova is a PhD candidate in the joint Film and Media Studies and Slavic Languages and Literatures program at Yale University. Her academic interests include animation, film theory, media studies, comic books, early Soviet cinema, Russian cinema and translation. Her article “The Mastery Machine: Digital Animation and Fantasies of Control” appears in Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal 8.2 (July 2013). Her co-authored essay on Dziga Vertov and animation theory (with John MacKay) is forthcoming in the collection Animating Film Theory, edited by Karen Beckman.
“‘Successful Lighting is Silent Lighting’: Pixar’s Quest for Live-Action Realism” highlights the means through which computer-generated animation emulates cinematic realism, as exemplified by Pixar’s lighting techniques and corresponding software evolution. It discusses Pixar’s “silent” lighting as an example of the goals and trends which drive innovation in computer animation. The paper highlights the properties and ideological implications of an aesthetic concerned with recreating not the real world itself, but the real world as presented in live-action cinema—an imitation of imitation of life. Finally, it examines the rhetoric of Pixar’s promotional materials in order to situate the company’s production model within a media discourse on animated realism.
James Rosenow is currently a PhD student at the University of Chicago in the Cinema and Media Studies department. Her master’s degree in art history was awarded from Williams College in 2010. She is currently developing her dissertation that reassesses and possibly redefines amateur film production in America during the twenties and thirties.
There was something peculiar about the string of vicious murders attributed to “Jack the Ripper.” According to one contemporary newspaper, “Pale-lipped women shuddered as they read the dreadful details and some said that the skies were of a deeper red that autumn.” It is safe to say that apart from the ink spilt on purple prose such as this, the endurance of Ripper lore has to do with the spell cast by the principle of the uncertain. The purpose of “Jack’s Black Square and Cross-processed Dreams” will be to consider how the uncertainty created by a still unknown assailant over a century ago has been taken up as inspiration for works intended for latter-day audiences. Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell and the Hughes Brothers’ cinematic adaptation of the graphic novel each seek to translate elements of uncertainty through manipulations and deprivation of color.
Sean Strader is a PhD student in the joint Film & Media Studies and French program at Yale University. He received a MA from Ohio State University. His interests center on French cinema before the Nouvelle Vague, cinema and theatre, and questions of technologies and media as represented in cinema.
“Impactive Contrast: Early Color Design in Pathé’s Stencil-Colored Féerie and Trick Films”: The Pathé studios between 1904 and 1908 moved from an artisanal system of hand-coloring to the partially-mechanized, semi-industrial process of stencil-cutting and coloring. In Pathé’s popular Féerie and Trick films, color was employed in a strategic and repeated ways that can be read as early instances of “color design.” The strategic division of film frames into colored and uncolored areas enforces and standardizes these choices by the physical cutting of stencils. The impactive qualities of these fields highlight certain spectacular and narrative elements through color and contrast, drawing the spectator’s eye, distinguishing magical elements from the everyday, and self-reflexively suggesting a magical coloring of the world provided by Pathé.
Andrew Vielkind is currently a PhD student in the History of Art and Film & Media Studies at Yale University. He also holds an MA in Humanities from the University of Chicago. His research interests include post-war experimental film, expanded cinema practices, media archaeology, and new media theory.
“Logophobia: Stan Brakhage’s Hand-Painted Films and the Phenomenology of Color” maps Stan Brakhage’s theories of color articulated in Metaphors on Vision onto the hand-painted films that he began to craft in the late 1980s until his death. Brakhage’s interest in phenomenology over this period mirrors Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s analysis of Paul Cezanne’s impressionist paintings, which, through the application of pigment on canvas, dissolve the separation between body and nature. Similarly, the hand-painted films offer a form of biomorphicsubjectivity through the transcription of “closed eye” processes, such as hypnagogic vision and the optical feedback of synapsing neurons, onto the surface of the filmstrip. From these “primordial” perceptions, Brakhage establishes an ontology of cinematic color that exists outside of camera-centric paradigms.
Matt Von Vogt is a PhD student in the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University-Bloomington. His interests include authorship, sound theory, and the body onscreen.
“Visualizing the ‘Total Filmmaker’: Jerry Lewis, Color, and Authorship against Classical Hollywood” considers the relationship between color and authorship in Jerry Lewis’s The Nutty Professor (1963). It argues that the film’s hyper-saturated color issues a convergence between cartoon animation and live-action cinema that establishes a tension between Lewis’s characters in the film and his presence as director. Drawing from sequences in the film and from The Total Filmmaker, the collection of transcribed lectures Lewis gave at USC, the talk explores how bringing animation and live-action film in conversation enables Lewis to offer an avenue for “total filmmaking” that operates against codes of classical realism to assert the authority of the director.
Artemis Willis (PhD Candidate, University of Chicago) is a media arts curator, documentary filmmaker and scholar. She has organized film series, tributes, lantern shows and other projected performances with such institutions as the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the National Gallery of Art. Her films have screened at the MFA Boston, Anthology Film Archives and the Brooklyn Museum. Her doctoral project concerns the international history and practice of the magic lantern.
“The Color Purple: Aesthetics, Eroticism and Spectacle in D.W. Griffith’s The Fall of Babylon” explores the aesthetics of projected color by way of D. W. Griffith’s 1919 stage-screen spectacular, The Fall of Babylon. Examining Babylon’s sensual effects across film and performance alongside a longer history of color experimentation, this paper argues that Griffith’s practice of “live color” not only highlights his intermedial engagement with theater and cinema, but also evokes synaesthetic ambitions in a popular register. Live color, in turn, reframes a range of aesthetic questions concerning color in the silent era, and invites us to explore the difference between applied processes and ephemeral projections.
Booth Wilson is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His areas include early and Soviet cinema, and his article “Computer Animation across the Iron Curtain: Early Digital Character Design in Kitty (Koschechka, 1968) appears in the 2013 Animation Journal.
Laboratories receive particularly little attention in the history of the breakup of the Hollywood studio system. “Color Cinema’s Silver Age: Post-studio Lab Economics, Color Development Processes, and the Malleability of the Look” examines the intersection of stylistic, technological, and economic factors at play by exploring the development of silver-retention processes, exemplified by Technicolor Italy’s ENR, and their effect on film style. Contrary to a common view that post-studio lab practices were primarily cost-cutting measures that degraded color cinema, this paper argues that not only and does silver-retention qualify as legitimate aesthetic intervention in principle, but it actually was more expensive than typical development. Moreover, whereas usually the process is associated with dull, desaturated color, the paper will examine a variety of stylistic possibilities options it presented to filmmakers. Silver retention processes exemplify the contemporary relationship between director, cinematographer, and lab technician as creators of a “look” and show the continuities between digital color techniques and earlier photochemical ones.
Panpan Yang is a MA student in Cinema Studies at New York University. She received a BA in Film Production and dual degree in Philosophy from Peking University. Her research interests embrace animation theory and history, early cinema, and transmedia narrative. Her animated films have been screened and awarded in film festivals in and outside China.
In 1932, Disney remade Flowers and Tree with a three-strip Technicolor process. The Fleischer Studios, unable to access three-color technology owing to Disney’s exclusive contract, made do with the two-strip Cinecolor in Poor Cinderella (1934). “Color Competition: Re-imagining the Disney-Fleischer Relationship” focuses on the color competition between the two studios, paying attention to technological innovations, studio interaction, and aesthetic differentiation. This competition gives us a window to re-imagine the Disney-Fleischer relationship: while the two studios were keenly aware of each other’s actions, they took great efforts to differentiate their products. The never-ending cycle of expensive product differentiation finally led to the dead end of the bewildering history of color competition.