Recent Comments

Cinema’s allergy to showing industrial labor in particular, and what Marx called “productive labor” in general, is very well known. Some like Zizek make the mistake of calling this a recent phenomenon and other like Farocki knew that factory work has been encrypted off screen for the whole of cinema’s history. My contention is that, in part because of the reactionary productivism that haunts avant garde depictions of labor , cinema’s essential praxis, the praxis that drives it forward and which can’t be discerned from the “myth of total cinema,” of second life, that persists in all contemporary expression *as such,* is the attempt to render the quotidian and generational reproduction of the proletariate perceivable. Attempts to depict labor did not have the same effect on cinema’s historical and art historical vectors. I didn’t exactly mean to write a formalist evaluation of the acualité. I use it and certain of it’s features as an emblem for the main genetic vector in cinema. In part this is derived from Deleuze’s notion of the “soul of cinema,” which I would rather call it’s leading edge, apical meristem, or simply, the films I can be bothered with. My contention that making social reproduction perceivable allow one to show that cinema played a specific roll in the death of media and as a force along Art’s general becoming-form-life. So, I agree that what’s inside the Lumiere factory can’t be perceived in the clip.

Roland Vegso

I would like to second Rene Thoreau Bruckner’s question. My immediate response was similar: we do not know where the workers are going, but the inside of the factory remains equally invisible. Or, to put it differently, maybe their destinations are as predictable as the monotony of work itself. So what the short film makes visible is the moment of exiting itself. Maybe what is truly invisible in capitalist society is not the sites of production and reproduction, but the mundane yet fleetingly utopian passages connecting them.

Rene Thoreau Bruckner

Thanks, Dr. Schwartz, for this productive exposé on cinema’s primal scene (one of them, anyway). How important is the film’s framing, in your account? The composition limits the visibility of that outside world—where are they going?— but also blocks our view of the inside of the factory. It seems that the issue of showing/blocking the scene of labor also carries over through the ensuing history of cinema. In any case, you’ve led me to consider reclassifying this film as a mystery. Translate its static composition—half obscured, half peep show—into classical narrative, and it is as much noir detective story as it is melodrama. Again, thanks for reinvigorating the film.

Stephanie Chung
Alan Chu

Thank you for sharing! I love the Lego Movie because it delivers an aspirational message that addresses the significance of improvisation. The transition of Emmet’s character from ordinary to extraordinary sees the importance of learning to trust your own instinct and embracing your individual uniqueness. Although routinized structures in which one plays safe by following instructions can potentially yield predictable but standardized outcomes, in the multidirectional flows of knowledge in an era of globalization like today, fluid responsibilities and dynamic flexibility also play a vital role.

I always believe that a ‘truth’ has multiple layers. When ‘everyone is a producer’ as you said, he or she is only producing a certain representation that is made visible, obvious, and explicit. What is truly significant is the invisible that underlies the explicit. For each invention, each improvisation, we dig deeper into the invisible and turn it into a visible appearance. A ‘truth’ is not definitive. Which is why after connection and disconnection, inventing and reinventing, and as different layers unfold, new possibilities emerge. Likewise, great ideas are built on existing ideas. Creativity comes into play when one recognizes the uncertainty and unpredictability are fun parts in life.

Cynthia Meyers

As a first-time attendee, I enjoyed the much more substantive conversations in the roundtables than is usually found in panel presentations. I think the most successful roundtables included presenters who explained a specific example, illustration, issue, or angle on a topic. At the best roundtables, these specific points then dovetailed in interesting ways and really helped stimulate discussion.

The Core Conversations also succeeded in several ways. First, they provided a common event for attendees to discuss—and they were energetically discussed! Second, there was an interesting range of perspectives from creatives, archivists, tech specialists, and executives. Third, it was fascinating how the audience reacted to and interacted with the panelists. A little more cross-exposure between the cloistered worlds of academia and the television industry is, I think, a valuable experience for both.

Roland Vegso

I would also add that the video is permeated by a rhetoric of “preparedness” that seems to locate this ideal subject of capitalism in the discourse of “crisis management.” In other words, the social actor is not only “a “decision unit” whose existence is nothing more that a series of rational investments in their human capital,” but also a subject who makes these rational decisions against the background of a perpetual crisis. (Who knows? There might be a fire in the hotel that I am staying at; so the rational decision is to invest in a room with an easy access to all exits.) Of course, here capitalism is not seen as itself being a perpetual catastrophe but the only rational remedy against the risks of life.

Adam Cottrel

Hi Seb,

Thanks for such an insightful post. Watching this video I was struck by the absurdity of Bauer’s presentation that seemed to be equal parts confidence and desperation. Bauer seems both fully in control of every (possible) situation, and yet also in need of having all of his decisions validated. What your post has me thinking here is what kind of life and conditions of labor would grant Bauer such a substantial following (as he is quick to remind us over and over)? About 12-minues into the video Bauer states that his tips will save people “not only a lot of time and money, but a lot of anxiety too.” If millennial Capitalism is defined by a battle over controlling one’s time, money, and emotional state, Bauer’s resolution seems oddly (and absurdly) reassuring: all our contemporary troubles can be solved through the properly packed suitcase containing the appropriate consumer goods. What is striking to me about this is not only the question of “flexible labor” but the promise each one of these products makes to the consumer to maintain that flexible capacity with all intrusions/disruptions/contingencies taken into account.

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Virginia Ferrer

I think this is a very important critique. I’m surprised Whoopi Goldberg would misattribute blame when the audition process that Sasheer was hired out of was more or less SNL giving a call back to 10-20 African American women who had already auditioned for the season. As a member of Upright Citizens Brigade and a feminist scholar, saying that the actresses were too “green” to be hired is just incorrect and by any logic, just a temporary excuse before addressing the problem.

I would ask, however, that if you would like to continue critiquing the institutional and structural barriers, you consider that two African-American female writers were added to the staff when Zamata was cast. It is imperfect, but I feel that begins to address the problem qualatatively.

The video you curated can be used to analyze Whoopi Goldberg, the View, and public conversations about representation and displaced blame. Your sources on SNL, however, are second and third hand abbreviated quotes posted by sources who are already critiquing SNL.

Mark Stewart

It’s only been a few hours since the conference ended, but I have to say that I think it was an excellent event. Thank you to all the people who worked so hard to put this together. There is no conference I have ever been to like Flow, for the discussions which come out, for the collegiality, for how inspired I feel to push myself and my own work, and to hear and read more of others.

The Core Conversations were a fantastic addition, and while I think they could be tweaked a little for subsequent conferences, I think they really provided a point of connection, bringing us all together for a shared experience at the end of each day.

While Alisa makes the point that some of these conversations now happen in other spaces as well, I don’t really know of any other spaces where this number of diverse people comes together to have face to face discussions on our specific topics. SCMS is so much larger, Console-ing Passions is wonderful, but it doesn’t have discussions in the same way.

Flow is the only conference that I ensure that I come to the US for, every time, and there are really good reasons for that. This is a unique space, and I really look forward to being back here in 2 years time.

Aaron Hunter

While many web series have looked to television for models of everything from narrative to production to the “season” format, I wonder if they may also be groping towards something different in regards to those aspects (and others). In terms of style and narrative structure, some web series are already forging new ground that may not be completely different from TV, but does seem to indicate that web series content creators see the form as something different.

The inclination to think about web series as a new kind of TV seems really natural and intuitive, but I wonder if doing so might not, in a way, ghettoize them in similar fashion to how TV itself was scorned and marginalized for so long by Film Studies.