Yale Film and Media Studies presents:
The 12th Annual Yale Film and Media Studies Graduate Student Two Day Conference: “Wearing Out The Image.”
Keynote Speaker: Elena Gorfinkel, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, King’s College London.
“What weariness makes possible, weariness makes difficult.”
Maurice Blanchot, The Infinite Conversation
Exhaustion, fatigue, torpor, weariness, abeyance—this constellation of affects has come to define the default state of the everyday in our global and information-driven economies. As the world of labor permeates leisurely time in sleepless societies, depleting the domains of attentive, affective, and cognitive work, states of deprivation are normalized as modes of material and psychological engagement with the world. Precarity has become the necessary precondition for and inextricable product of labor. The imperative to exhaust oneself to secure a livelihood that nevertheless remains depleted creates a circular logic which extends well beyond the sphere of the human. Our deprivation thus appears to be an unending process rather than a completed state. We might ask, then: can exhaustion constitute a potential reservoir for political capaciousness? Or is exhaustion a paradoxical site for lateral agency, where the promises of utopianism are nothing but the vestigial remains of obsolete politics?
The stakes of exhausted situations have always been intricately bound up with visual media. Film began with employees leaving a factory. Some declare that it will end with the absorption and relocation of this cinematic labor within new media, screens and cultural techniques. From Maxim Gorky’s early elaboration of the over-drained sensorium to digital media’s unnerving capacity to make us vulnerable through pervasive surveillance and incessant enlisting of our attentional resources; from Robert Bresson’s numbed “models” and Andy Warhol’s wearily indifferent subjects, to Tsai Ming-Liang’s temporally alienated drifters and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s hallucinating sleepers, the cinema has exhibited a near-physiological capacity to expose the rhythms, effects, temporalities of tired bodies and depleted environments. Yet, as we navigate the intrusions of contemporary mediascapes, a new paradigm for the exhausted emerges. Digital media exhaust us by their exhaustiveness: our lives, continuously seeping through them, are left oversaturated, overused, and overexposed. It is the intrinsic tension pervading ‘exhaustion’ that this conference aims to explore within the spheres of film and media.
1:00 to 1:45 pm: Registration and Welcome
1:45 to 2:00 pm: Opening Remarks
2:00 to 3:00 pm: Panel I: Programmed Labor
- Johan Fredrikzon (University of Stockholm), “Data Exhaust in 1970s Biopolitics”
- Myrna Moretti (Northwestern), “What Cuts Across the Human and the Machine: Questions of Memory in Dollhouse and Westworld”
- Respondent: John Durham Peters, Professor of English & Film and Media Studies, Yale University
3:00 to 4:00 pm: Break
4:00 to 5:30 pm: Keynote Address by Dr. Elena Gorfinkel, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, King’s College London: “Somnolent Spaces, Exhaustion Dreams”
Whitney Humanities Center, Room 108
5:30 pm: Dinner Reception
Whitney Humanities Center Auditorium
7:00 to 9:00 pm: Conference Screening: On The Edge/ Sur La Planche (2011); dir. Leila Kilani (DCP, French with English Subtitles)