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Cine-Dispositives: Essays in Epistemology Across Media

François Albera
Maria Tortajada
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 413
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    This collection brings together a number of leading scholars in film studies to explore viewing and listening dispositives-the Foucauldian concept of a strategic and technical configuration of practices and discourses-from the emergence of film studies as a field in the 1960s to more recent uses of the concept. In particular, the contributors confront points of view and perspectives in the context of the rise and spread of new technologies-changes that are continually altering the boundaries and the spaces of cinema and thus demand new analysis and theoretization.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-2344-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 9-10)
  4. Questioning the Word “Dispositif” Note on the Translation
    (pp. 11-14)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. 15-18)
    François Albera and Maria Tortajada

    The purpose of the present volume is to (re-)examine the question of viewing and listening dispositives, from the emergence of the notion in the field of film studies in the late 1960s to the more limited – technical and descriptive – use that followed, as well as the parallel elaboration on the term by Michel Foucault, on a completely different scale, inDiscipline and Punish, up to more recent developments in literature and art. The book also aims to confront approaches and perspectives in the very different context that is ours today: the generalization of new technologies, the digital era and the...

  6. I. Dispositives:: Programs

    • The Dispositive Does Not Exist!
      (pp. 21-44)
      François Albera and Maria Tortajada

      Five ways to approach the dispositive emerge from the texts that appear in this volume; none is exclusive of the others, some are conjoined or articulated, some are separate. In French, the term “dispositif” refers to a plurality of meanings, from the simple mechanism of a device, instrument or machine, to the epistemological construction liable to produce effects of power and knowledge – the disciplinarydispositifor thedispositifof sexuality. From its most concrete to its most abstract definition, the “dispositif” involves the common signification ofarrangement.Still, the different meanings of the notion subject it – and its users – to...

    • Between Knowing and Believing The Cinematic Dispositive after Cinema
      (pp. 45-72)
      Thomas Elsaesser

      TheImagined Futuresresearch project, coordinated with two of my colleagues (Wanda Strauven at the University of Amsterdam, and Michael Wedel at the University of Film and Television, Potsdam), concerns itself with the conditions, dynamics and consequences of rapid media transfer and transformation. “Media” in our case refers in principle to all imaging techniques and sound technologies, but cinema has provided the conceptual starting point and primary historical focus. While changes in basic technology, public perception and artistic practice in sound and image media may often evolve over long historical cycles, our main working assumption is that there are also...

  7. II. Dispositives:: Issues

    • “You Do Not Even Know Where You Are” Dispositive and Dizziness
      (pp. 75-92)
      Patrick Désile

      The countless efflorescences of more or less recent uses of the word “dispositif” fall into areas as diverse as law, diplomacy, the art of warfare, sociology, plastic arts, literary criticism, film theory (obviously), and many others. Being careful not to venture in every direction, here I will limit my own use of the term to two meanings: first, the standard usage of “a set of elements arranged with a view to a specific goal,” to quote a definition fromTrésor de la langue française;¹ spectacular dispositives in this instance, more specifically from the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth...

    • Marey and the Synthesis of Movement The Reconstruction of a Concept
      (pp. 93-114)
      Maria Tortajada

      “Cinema is the moving image”: the idea, which has become a commonplace, coalesced around 1900 as photography was being referred to as the still image. The opposition between photography and cinema made it possible throughout the twentieth century, and to this day, to assign distinct tasks in the representation of reality to each of these emblematic dispositives of modernity. Still, the association still/moving also structured the cinematographic dispositive as such as early as the late nineteenth century. Indeed, photography was not the other of cinema at the time, but a means used by “cinema” in its chronophotographic stage to reconstitute...

    • Notes on the Bergsonian Cinematograph
      (pp. 115-128)
      Elie During

      We know how Gilles Deleuze turned the commonplace inside out: Bergson, so it went, had “missed” cinema, contenting himself with a critique of its dispositive – the mechanism of the projecting device called the “cinematograph,” to be specific. Before the critique of the “cinematographic illusion,” developed for the most part in 1907 inCreative Evolution,¹ there was indeed the doctrine of real movement, whose touchstone was the pure perception of movement as an act or progression rather than as a relation distributed in the spatial order. Movement unfolds in time, not in space. This bold thesis, exposed inMatter and Memory,...

    • The Stereopticon and Cinema Media Form or Platform?
      (pp. 129-160)
      Charles Musser

      Today, many academics working in the Humanities and Social Sciences are pursuing a broad interest in media studies. At least at Yale University, where we have created an interdisciplinary seminar in this area, what we mean by media studies – our actual focuses and concerns – differ substantially. In the English Department, for instance, Media Studies foregrounds the study of the book and the move from the scroll or codex. In the more contemporary context, Michael Warner and Jessica Pressman are clearly interested in the way the digital media and the Internet are impacting the book and print culture more generally. Part...

    • On Some Limitations of the Definition of the Dispositive “Cinema”
      (pp. 161-178)
      André Gaudreault

      At the conference at which this paper was presented, two participants made a reference to Guillaume Apollinaire without consulting each other beforehand. François Albera first pointed out that, according to the author of “The New Spirit and the Poets,” poets wanted to be able some day “to mechanize poetry as the world has been mechanized.”³ For my part, I projected an excerpt of the poem used here as an epigraph and straightforwardly titled “Before the Cinema.” No intention or planning, no machination should be read into this coincidence, which is first and foremost the result of chance. Still, the coincidence...

    • The Moment of the “Dispositif”
      (pp. 179-194)
      Omar Hachemi

      If the “dispositif” constitutes a “moment,” it is not so much in accordance with its theoretical unity as with its scattered persistence in film theory. This persistence of the word necessarily brings up the question of its provenance: of which theoretical formation is this notion the standard? The word appeared in the 1970s at the intersection of key concepts – the unconscious, ideology, the signifier – which found the topological model of their functioning in cinematographic technique. Through the primacy given to arrangements, the notion of the “dispositif” fostered a spatial distribution of concepts: the topology of the “scenographic cube” revealed by...

    • The “Dispositive Effect” in Film Narrative
      (pp. 195-214)
      Philippe Ortel

      Like the idea of structure, the notion of the “dispositif” does not pertain to a single level of analysis: it applies to specific objects, such as the mechanism of a watch, but also to large ensembles, as in Foucault’s work, where it came to substitute for the episteme in the late 1970s. By contrast to the episteme, focused too narrowly on the utterances produced by a society, Foucault’sdispositifrefers more widely to the totality of discourses, social practices, technical inventions, architectural creations instituting, at a given time, the partition between the true and the false in the domain of...

  8. III. Dispositives:: Histories

    • The Social Imaginary of Telephony Fictional Dispositives in Albert Robida’s Le Vingtième Siècle and the Archeology of “Talking Cinema”
      (pp. 217-248)
      Alain Boillat

      What I propose to do here, within a perspective involving both epistemology and the archaeology of media, is to approach “talking cinema” through the examination of discourses produced in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, that is, almost fifty years prior to the generalization of talkies and the institutionalization of practices related to sound in the domain of cinema.² Beyond this specific medium, I will examine the series of machines of audiovisual representation, one of whose many actualizations was “talking cinema” (which is why quotation marks are fitting here, with regard to “cinema” as well as “talking”). Among...

    • Between Paradoxical Spectacles and Technical Dispositives Looking Again at the (Serpentine) Dances of Early Cinema
      (pp. 249-274)
      Laurent Guido

      When trying to grasp the complex relationships between dance and moving images, during the emergence of the cinematic medium, one can hardly avoid noticing the necessity of investigate, once again, the films dedicated to the famous number of “serpentine” dance developed and started in 1892 by music-hall performer Loïe Fuller. The phenomenal craze created by this original stage spectacle ended up imposing it as one of the motifs characterizing artistic expression at the turn of the twentieth century. Countless variations have attested to this, at least until the First World War, in areas as diverse as sculpture, painting, architecture, furniture,...

    • Forms of Machines, Forms of Movement
      (pp. 275-298)
      Benoît Turquety

      In a documentary produced in 1996-1997, American filmmaker Stan Brakhage, who spent much of his life painting and scratching film, stated that

      One of the major things in film is that you have 24 beats in a second, or 16 beats or whatever speed the projector is running at. It is a medium that has a base beat, that is intrinsically baroque. And aesthetically speaking, it’s just appalling to me to try to watch, for example, as I did, Eisenstein’sBattleship Potemkinon video: it dulls all the rhythm of the editing. Because video looks, in comparison to the sharp,...

    • The Amateur-Dispositive
      (pp. 299-318)
      François Albera

      The issue of the “amateur” or “amateurs” is more topical than ever these days, because of the easier access to equipment produced by new technologies, its miniaturization and availability, with mass industrial production making it affordable for a large majority of people. The phenomenon has been widely taken into account in the field of photography studies, where it always went hand in hand with the other – learned, expert, professional – tradition, from Foto-Auge in 1929 to the exhibition “Tous photographes” (Lausanne, 2007) or “From here on” (Arles, 2011). However, the same phenomenon is now assuming a whole other dimension, in particular...

    • Two Versions of the Television Dispositive
      (pp. 319-340)
      Gilles Delavaud

      Many debates on the identity of television as a medium and as an art accompanied its expansion in the United States in the late 1940s and in France in the early 1950s. In 1948, Jack Gould mentioned the fact that television found inspiration in preexisting arts to argue that, precisely because it combined “[…] the close-up of the motion picture, the spontaneity of the living stage and the instantaneousness of radio” and was “the fusion of these three elements,” it was absolutely unique.² Reviewing the 1949 season, Flora R. Schreiber was even more assertive: “I am seeking an idiom that...

    • Reality Television as Dispositive: The Case of French-Speaking Switzerland
      (pp. 341-358)
      Charlotte Bouchez

      While scholars are sometimes confronted with the ignorance of their interlocutors about their field of research, anyone who has ambitions to work on “reality TV” is in exactly the opposite situation. The mere mention of the term conjures up an impression of self-evidence, as reality television does not immediately appear to be complex subject matter. Still, a simple look at the phenomenon already reveals a variety of objects. Starting from a study carried out on reality television in French-speaking Switzerland,¹ this study questions how the term “reality television programming” has come to make sense within social exchange and examines the...

    • Dispositive and Cinepoetry, around Foucault’s Death and the Labyrinth
      (pp. 359-378)
      Christophe Wall-Romana

      In a farcical piece titled “The Maldoror-Poems Dispositive,” Francis Ponge mockingly invites us to draw a use value from Lautréamont:

      Open Lautréamont! And there you have literature turned inside out like an umbrella!

      Close Lautréamont! And everything immediately falls back into place…

      To enjoy complete intellectual comfort at home, try and adapt the MAL-DOROR/POEMS dispositive to your library.¹

      This 1946 text implicitly refers to the famous umbrella ofThe Songs of Maldoror, which reads: “as beautiful as the random encounter between an umbrella and a sewing machine upon a dissecting table.”² Yet Ponge, dismissing the fantastic element, extracts a domestic...

    • Archaeology and Spectacle Old Dispositives and New Objects for Surprised Spectators Stopping by the Museum
      (pp. 379-392)
      Viva Paci

      To examine the notion of thedispositiveand identify its place in contemporary practices at the intersection of two institutions, Cinema and the Museum, this text proposes a progression through a few individual cases, with the outlines of a study. This may appear as lacking indisciplinewith regard to the call for papers for the conference “Dispositifs de vision et d’audition” (Université de Lausanne, May 29-31, 2008), which was the first step in the present work. The call underlined how the study of a series of isolated cases would risk “perpetuating the ambiguity of encounters in which epistemological questioning...

  9. About the Authors
    (pp. 393-398)
  10. Index of Titles
    (pp. 399-402)
  11. Index of Names
    (pp. 403-406)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 407-412)