Conférences 2022

Jeudi 7 avril 2022, 18h, salle Unithèque 4215

Estelle Sohier (Université de Genève) : Un album photographique comme expérience de l’espace en contexte colonial (Transvaal/Paris, 1889)

La notion de dispositif est mobilisée depuis plusieurs années en géographie culturelle pour penser les relations à l’espace. Cette conférence reviendra sur le sens et les enjeux de la notion de « dispositif de simulation du monde » forgée pour caractériser des lieux de spectacle mettant le monde à la mesure de l’homme. Nous la mobiliserons pour comprendre la portée d’une série de grands albums photographiques présentés à l’Exposition universelle de Paris en 1889 par un photographe suisse, Henri-Ferdinand Gros, sur le Transvaal, en Afrique du sud. Il s’agira de saisir la perception que cette succession d’images induit à un espace alors en transition politique et économique, et l’expérience visuelle qu’elles proposent au public, préparant la conquête de cette région par l’économie capitaliste. Elles sont emblématiques de la participation de la Suisse au développement de la culture visuelle coloniale en Europe.

Mercredi 11 mai 2022, 18h, salle Unithèque 4215

Marijke de Valck (Utrecht University) : North-South Festival Encounters: The Global Screen Worlds of Wild Tales

World Cinema emerged originally as a category for non-western cinemas, akin to World Music and World Literature. In this usage it carries the ambiguous connotation of a marketing label for Western consumption of cultural products that resist Western culture. The widespread adoption of the term in film studies has not precluded reservations about the term’s ability to capture the diversity in World Cinema and encompass all discourses put forward to make sense of them. Dennison and Lim’s qualification of World Cinema as a “theoretical problem” is frequently cited to point to the sheer impossibility of mapping the cinemas of the world, especially if both the world and its cinemas are in constant flux. Film festivals play a crucial role in the reconfigurations of local, regional, national and global relationships in the global film industries. It is through festivals that global flows of films are moderated. While film festivals are celebrated for their commitment to cultural diversity, they are also criticized for limiting filmmakers to certain parameters. In particular, festivals create demand for films that display a strong local or national identity, and satisfy audience cravings for exploring unfamiliar cultures (Nichols 1994). At the same time, festivals suggest there are universal standards to compare and understand the diversity in World Cinema. This presentation focuses on Latin-American cinema, which traditionally has a strong presence in European co-production markets, is well supported by festival funds and enjoys wide festival circulation. Research has pointed out how this system tends to favor Latin American cinema tailored to the Euro-U.S. art cinema model (Campos, 2015; Falicov 2010; Ross, 2011). In this presentation the case of Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes), an Argentinean-Spanish co-production that premiered in Cannes, 2014, is seized to for a comparative analysis of the trajectories and imaginations of North-South festival encounters in Argentina, the Netherlands and Australia. 

Mercredi 25 mai 2022, 18h, salle Unithèque 4215

Conférence reportée

Weihong Bao (University of California, Berkeley) : Background Matters: Set Design as Dispositif

Although the dispositif is often associated with a technical device, applying it to set design poses a series of interesting problems: what constitutes the matter and object of set design? How do we account for its technology and principles of operation? Where do we draw the line between human and environment as the agent, matter, and object of set design?

The challenges and problems posed by set design returns us to a key notion of the dispositif as configuration of heterogeneous elements subject to strategic reordering. Yet instead of attributing its variable arrangement to the genius of the technological apparatus or system, I situate my inquiry of the dispositif at the intersection of discursive entanglement, aesthetic practice, and technological operation. I will navigate my inquiry through the historical co-evolvement of set design and environmental thinking in early twentieth century China.

My paper will first look at how “matter” was reconceived when huangjing (environment) emerged as an epistemological dominant in China in the 1910s and 20s when biology, psychology, and sociology frequently intersect. A renewed notion of matter as mutable and vital, I suggest, rendered environment with an ontological uncertainty that disrupts the distinction between self and other, inside and outside.

This conception of environment as vibrant matter encompassing the physical, spiritual, psychological, and socio-historical, I argue, converged with the privileging of mood and atmosphere in set design thinking which emerged alongside “environmental” discourses in China. The second part of my paper thus turns from the episteme of “environment” to its dispositif, by looking at set design theory and practice as laboratories of environment that test, execute, and supplement emerging conceptions. I will focus on set design theories that move from general concerns on huanjing (environment) to more specific considerations of beijing (background), qifen (atmosphere), and qingdiao (mood), binding the material and technological considerations of set design to the engineering of affect, an ephemeral but tangible air with geopolitical implications during the WWII.

Through this inquiry of set design as dispositif, I propose an environmental notion of the medium that serves to reconnect technics and aesthetics, object and agent, mind and environment.