Recent Comments

Miklos Kiss
How nice, the scene from NYSM is exactly the same I invite students to analyze (in my puzzle films class) regarding its clever combination of traditional magic and cinematic tricks! I wonder if anyone knows film examples where eye-tracking research influenced editing, framing, acting, staging or other aspects of film making. I immensely enjoy these analytical videos, especially since Tim Smith’s work on THERE WILL BE BLOOD, and now would like to see how the emerging knowledge could support practical choices of filmmakers.
Cüneyt Çakırlar
Many thanks for your appreciative comments, Elif and Daniel! As I’d had the chance to talk to you in detail regarding this video, I know how your affective investments in this piece operate, and how different these investments are. Yet, the ways you both intellectually framed in our conversations how the video “moved” and “touched” you had been tremendously helpful to me. I have never had the chance to officially respond to the reception of this piece post publication. I must admit that this delay was partly because the one-year-long peer-review process was extremely challenging to me and the published versions of the review reports confused me for a while. Although I grew to like the Derridean Glas-like two-column format of its final presentation above, I had ended up questioning the extent/effectivity of openness and of intellectual reciprocity in the review process, which is why I needed some time to critically reflect on my reactions to the entire process before providing a mature account of my thoughts and experiences. Inspired by the recurring images of mothering/motherhood in Moore’s performances, this video’s primary ambition was a formal one. It aimed to formally register a “queer erotic” that is significantly informed by the friction between “mothering” and sexuality. The video exploits this friction in order to produce an incestuous maternal persona by making use of Moore’s performances. If there was a claim of original contribution (to the growing literature on videographic criticism) here, I had tried to make the formal/textual operation of the video as the central concern in its contribution: How to achieve a queer form (and method) in the production of a video essay that attempts to prioritise the erotic as the primary marker of a star-text – while providing a poetic/performative account of a star-image? How to eroticize, and even queer, the tribute/compilation format? My modest engagement with editing and sound tried to tackle these questions. Because all my “un-official peer-reviewers” (the majority of whom are scholars and practitioners in various fields of LGBTQ media, film and arts) were able to grasp the queer erotic and performativity embedded in the piece, I was intrigued by the fact that the peer reviewers had not addressed, at all, the queer performativity (failed or not), and perhaps more significantly, the erotic register/address (successfully articulated or not) in this video and its formal choices. Although the peer-review process in its entirety (including the editorial interventions from the inTransition team) had been an intellectually rewarding process, I must admit that the unintelligibility of what I thought to be my original intervention/contribution was upsetting. In her discussion on “recent videographic approaches to film performance”, published by Cinema Journal in the special dossier “In Focus: Videographic Criticism”, Catherine Grant considers Mothers on the Line as one of the “most dynamic, original, and productive works emerging from or most connected to the contemporary context of online video” (2017: 151). Grant notes that the piece exemplifies a videographic practice that “combine[s] a multilayered homage to the performer [it] showcases […] with exacting critical audiovisual analysis, achieved through intricate processes of associative editing” (152). Comparing the video with Jaap Kooijman’s Success (2016), Grant argues that Mothers on the Line is a “somewhat more ambiguous, much less verbally “anchored” video” (152). Reminding the reader of my reference to “allure”-as-concept (in the title) and Kooijman’s critique of it, Grant uses Mothers on the Line as an example where an experimental videographic practice could escape its author’s intent and discursive predictions. Yet, Grant does not restrict her reading to the use of allure-as-concept which is, for me, a minor element of the video when compared to the formal/methodological issues raised above. Grant problematizes the place of appropriation (in her reference to the “inventive conjunctions of song lyrics and film footage”) and of performativity (through Barbara Bolt’s focus on the difficulties of access/intelligibility to works operating at the intersections between the “performative paradigms” and “research paradigms”) in videographic criticism. This debate on appropriation and performativity was precisely what I wished to provoke in Mothers on the Line. Problematizing my use of “allure”-as-concept, Kooijman states (above) that the “poetic mode succeeds quite beautifully in providing a sense of Moore’s allure, yet without fully grasping what such a concept eventually entails—which might be its point.” The use of “allure” was indeed deliberately ambivalent. It was deliberately made “slippery”. So was the use of “maternal” in square brackets. As Liz Greene also notes in her review (above), Moore’s appearances in the video “manage to remain slippery and difficult to pin down”. The swerve from the section “I. Union/Dissolution” to “II. The [Maternal] Allure” (i.e. from the generic dramas of maternal attachment/detachment to the scenes of erotic[/incestuous?] attachments to mothers/mother-substitutes) enacts this deliberate slipperiness. After all, can we “fully grasp” our erotic investments in stars and their images? Or, does such a compilation require a queer cinephilic engagement for its slippery erotic to be “grasped” more effectively? This critical ambivalence had been an immensely productive tool for me to provide a poetic/performative account of the prevalent erotic embedded in Julianne Moore’s maternal persona. With certain resonances and dissonances, motherhood/mothering is almost a performative anchor in most of Moore’s characters. Is my incorporation of 17 films really “collapsing” all these characters into a monolithic marker of “mothering”? Or, does it, in Greene’s words, “undervalue the totality of [Moore’s] enigmatic star presence”? I don’t think so. In my opinion, the reviewers’ critical focus on conceptual ambivalence (Kooijman) and the ethic of representation (Greene) undermines the value and the constitutive role of “the erotic” in this video’s formal operation. Focused on their own critical frameworks, the reviewers don’t seem to address (in the published version of their reports) what precisely they thought was worthy of publication in this work, and what its original contribution, if any, was to videographic criticism. Grant, however, does ameliorate this by also maintaining her critical curiosities in her reading.
Jason Mittell

[in]Transition's embrace of open peer review is still a novelty within academia, and thus may provoke disagreement and confusion in some contributors and readers. To clarify our process: we invite esteemed reviewers with considerable expertise to assess and comment upon the merits of submissions, and use those reviews to suggest revisions as appropriate to videos and accompanying statements. The final reviews and statement are edited by each writer to convey their individual perspectives, which may certainly disagree with one another; an author is always welcome to withdraw their submission if they believe the reviews do not adequately engage with the key concepts of their video. Our editors ensure that all published reviews and statements meet standards of professionalism, and model the spirit of open intellectual exchange that should sustain our academic community.

However, the post-publication comment thread is neither moderated nor approved by [in]Transition's editors. We presume that the requirement of commenting using real names will avoid the inflammatory culture that other online comment threads seem to nurture. We call upon our community to model the kind of respectful professional exchanges that we have all earned, and to particularly acknowledge the voluntary, unpaid labor that goes into peer reviewing and editing this journal. We hope that knowing that such deviations from a respectful tone will be linked with a commenter's name and professional reputation will be sufficient to guarantee professionalism and generosity of spirit.

-Jason Mittell, Project Manager for [in]Transition, on behalf of the entire editorial team

Daniel Massie
Thanks for this essay! It’s really fascinating, and gives language and criticality to things I think about often but haven’t been able to articulate. I find the voiceover to balance nicely with the visual sequences, making for a convincing + stimulating watch.
Daniel Massie
A truly moving and poetic video essay - elegantly structured and composed, and richly layered. The sequencing, use of music, and pacing really accentuated the scope of Moore’s career and reinforce the thesis. With a very convincing accompanying text, and incisive reviews I agree with, and am inspired by, this essay’s ability - and willingness - to situate itself within a new avenue of star studies. For my own research this approach is of great benefit, both in its willingness to re-neogtiate how we view an actor’s body of work, and similarily how one establishes a corpus of films for study. One a personal level seeing Moore’s work unpacked this way is so rewarding, entertaining, and fascinating. Within the essay’s consideration of Moore’s (performative) appeal and allure in an abstract and theoretical way, I find its form and breadth of (specific) analysis to be an alluring appeal in and of itself. As a self professed Moore devotee, cinephile, and ‘actressexual’ it is very exciting and gratifying to see research as contemporary and alive as this on this platform and treated with the respect and academic sincerity it undoubtably deserves.
Elif Akcali
To me this audiovisual essay is less about JM herself than the “maternal characters that JM portrays”. Despite the seemingly effortless grouping of the common themes that JM’s characters’ central conflicts are based upon (using images from 17 films!), the video also reveals the range in which these “mothering” characters differ, such as erotic, agressive, and affectionate, which evidently, regardless of the films’ subjects or genres, says something about both JM’s choices of roles as a performer and the industry’s typecasting her. I find the allure to be embedded in “JM as a mother”, and I find this allure lying in its complexity. I especially like the mix of audio and sound over the selection of shots: Bernstein’s music evokes immobile characters deep in thought, and directs the attention to their interiority, while we watch JM move, and explicitly voice that interority, making the video poetic, disturbing and thought provoking, all at once.
Richard Misek
To push the video’s argument one step further, I’ve now turned the video essay into a film. I hope it now not only explicates but also demonstrates what ‘film’ is in the context of digital media.
Corey K Creekmur
I find that this video essay, with the accompanying texts, exemplifies the goals of [in]Transition: the video essay is a suggestive work of criticism itself, and the texts richly expand upon it without displacing it. And the texts begin to build a genuine dialog and debate out of the video essay. All together (and with the helpful bibliography) this is a provocative and eminently useful collection of materials. Thanks to all involved!
Image from KILLER OF SHEEP & RATCATCHER
Sarah O'Brien
My apologies for what feels guiltily like a belated response—it’s been a split second in the print publication continuum that I’ve been inhabiting with the film, and yet an eternity in the Internet time of your response. (Surely this is among the many interesting variances/transitions highlighted by this experiment in the mixed-media afterlives of essays today.) In any case, immense thanks Cristina and Adrian for your video essay; it’s opened up a number of new lines of thought for me. I’m particularly taken with the connections you draw between Killer of Sheep and Ratcatcher, and grateful for the reference to Lesley Stern’s lovely essay on the film. Since the publication of my article, I’ve discovered that I’d also missed excellent work by Lesley Brill and Sharon Holland. These texts will certainly enrich my ongoing thinking about the film. I’m not sure that we ultimately disagree about the film’s relationship to the real. I suppose I want that “seemingly” in my description of the vérité style of the domestic scenes to do a lot of work—perhaps too much. Something that I hope comes through in the article is that my contrastive characterization of these interior scenes and the more mobile scenes in the slaughterhouse (as well as the exterior neighborhood scenes) is motivated by an interest in how Burnett allows the affects and bodies in these spaces to reverberate with/against one another. These reverberations are sometimes forged through editing (e.g. cuts that match the children’s and sheep’s motions), and at other times they emerge as more diffused rhymes. The rhyme between this scene of Stan and his wife’s sad slow dance and the slaughterhouse scene that animates the workers in a dance with the strung-up sheep’s bodies (to the tune of Little Walter’s “Mean Old World”) is one of the most devastating of these resonances for me, and one of many moments that evince the film’s simultaneous orientation in/with/against the real, as you put it. This orientation is part of why I turn to Bazin’s aesthetics, which do more than just valorize the revelation of a “natural unity”; as I write in the article, the film “documents a set of specific socio-historical conditions in which the shared reality of humans and animals (among other ontological categories or fields) is always already chopped up into bits, and the film therefore works not to uncover a natural or objective unity but to remind us that connections persist and even proliferate within this highly fragmented field” (38). In this light, I wonder how much of the tension between our two views of the film arises from your focus on the expressive duration of single scenes and mine on the transitions between them? Killer of Sheep is really exemplary, I think, in the ways it brings together these foundational filmic elements (the shot or scene as a discrete unit, the transformative cut), and perhaps our two takes are more complementary in this sense.