1. Experiments in Arab Cinema
This book in progress discusses some of the fascinating works in Arab cinema and media art over the last 20 years in which experimentation cuts through convention and gets close to something newly emerging, to life itself.
still from Blind Ambition (2012) by Hassan Khan
Upcoming screenings: "The Right Time: Experimental Media from the Arab World,” Simon Fraser University, Woodward's campus, Vancouver. March 15-16, 2013.
“Moving Images,” review of Art Dubai 2012, Afterimage 40:1 (Summer 2012): 4-5.
“Imaginal Materials,” catalogue essay, Spectral Imprints, Abraaj Capital Art Prize, ed. Nat Muller
“Calligraphic Animation: Documenting the Invisible,” in Animation 6:3, special issue on documentary (November 2010): 245 - 262.
“Mounir Fatmi,” Millennium Film Journal, 53 (Fall/Winter 2010)
“Akram Zaatari’s In This House: Diagram with Olive Tree,” catalogue essay, Akram Zaatari, Earth of Endless Secrets (Frankfurt: Portikus Gallery, 2010), 228-231.
“Geopolitics hides something in the image; Arab cinema unfolds something else,” in Cinema at the Periphery, ed. Dina Iordanova, David Martin-Jones and Belén Vidal (Detroit: Wayne State University Press), 232-253.
“Experience – Information – Image : a historiography of unfolding. Arab cinema as example,” Cultural Studies Review 14:1 (March 2007): 85-98, special issue on “History Experiments”
“Mohamed Soueid’s Cinema of Immanence,” Jump Cut 49 (2007), www.ejumpcut.org
“Asphalt Nomadism: The new desert in contemporary Arab cinema,” in Landscape Cinema, ed. Martin Lefebvre (Routledge, 2006).
“This Land Is Your Land: The Art of Adel Abidin,” catalogue essay for the Nordic Pavilion, 52nd Venice Biennale, Framework (Helsinki), 7 (June 2007), 80-87. Excerpted, “Adel Abidin’s Baghdad Travels,” in Universes in Universe
“Lamia Joreige’s Objects of War,’ Art Journal 66:2 (2007) special issue on contemporary art in Beirut
“Performance and its other side: Hassan Khan’s The Hidden Location,” catalogue essay, A Space (Toronto: A Space, 2005)
2. An Islamic genealogy of new media art more info
Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010.
"Words dream of being flowers, ducks dream of being words: the becoming-world of foliated Kufic,” in Variantology 4, ed. Siegfried Zielinski and Eckhard Fürlus (Köln: Walther König), 267-288.
"Aniconism: An Islamic Idea Blooms Anew in Contemporary Art, in Now Is the Time: Art and Theory in the 21st Century, ed. Jelle Bouwhis et al. (Amsterdam: NAi Pusblishers), 151-162.
“‘Taking a Line for a Walk’ from Islamic Art to Algorithmic Modernism,” Third Text 23:3 (May 2009): 229-240.
“Genetic algorithms, Kunstwollen, and Caucasian carpets,” in Place Studies in Art, Media, Science and Technology: Historical Investigations on the Sites and the Migration of Knowledge, ed. Andreas Broeckmann and Gunalan Nadarajan (VDG Weimar, 2008)
“The Haptic Transfer and the Travels of the Abstract Line: Embodied perception from classical Islam to modern Europe,” in Verkörperungen/Embodiment, ed. Christina Lammer and Kim Sawchuk (Vienna: Löcker Verlag, 2007), 269-284.
“Mémoire et implication: les origines islamiques des médias numériques,”in Mémoire et culture, ed. Claude Filteau and Michel Beniamino (Presses Universitaire de Limoges, 2007), 305-311.
“Infinity and Accident: Strategies of Enfoldment in Islamic Art and Computer Art,” Leonardo 39:1 (Winter 2006): 37-42.
“A Deleuzian Ijtihad: Unfolding Deleuze’s Islamic sources occulted in the ethnic cleansing of Spain,” in Deleuze and Race, ed. Arun Saldhana (forthcoming, Edinburgh University Press)
“Islamic Art and New Media Art: Points of Contact,” in Canadian Contributions to the Study of Islamic Art and Archaeology, ed. Marcus Milwright and Evanthia Baboula
3. Enfolding-unfolding aesthetics
I propose a triadic, enfolding-unfolding model for understanding the nature of the image in the information age: Image—Information—Infinite. Enfolding-unfolding aesthetics grounds my theoretical approach in Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art (2010). It synthesizes a monist aesthetics from Henri Bergson, Deleuze’s work on the fold, the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari, the triadic logic of C.S. Peirce, medieval Isma‘ili thought on latency and manifestation, and Ibn Sînâ and Deleuze on the univocity of being.
Here’s a picture:
The model originated in “Invisible Media,” in New Media: Theories and Practices of Digitextuality, ed. Anna Everett and John T. Caldwell (Routledge, 2003)
I further developed enfolding-unfolding aesthetics with designer Raegan Kelly as an animated diagram for Vectors: Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular 1:3 (2006)
Enfolding-unfolding aesthetics helps understand cinematic styles in “Experience – Information – Image : a historiography of unfolding. Arab cinema as example,” Cultural Studies Review (March 2007): 85-98, special issue on “History Experiments.” Another version is “Geopolitics hides something in the image; Arab cinema unfolds something else,” in Cinema at the Periphery, ed. Bélen Vidal (University of Edinburgh Press). I intended Experience to indicate the experience undergone by any entity, but people understood it to mean human experience, so I changed it.
An earthier iteration appears in “Information, Secrets, and Enigmas: An Enfolding-Unfolding Aesthetics for Cinema,” Screen 50th anniversary issue 50:1 (Spring 2009), 86-98
On experience in the information age see “Immigrant semiosis,” in Fluid Screens, Expanded Cinema: Digital Futures, ed. Susan Lord and Janine Marchessault (University of Toronto Press, 2007), 284-303
“Noise in Enfolding-Unfolding Aesthetics,” The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media, ed. Amy Herzog, John Richardson and Carol Vernallis (forthcoming: Oxford UP)
4. Artists’ media
“Immersed in the single channel: Experimental media from theater to gallery,” keynote lecture at 'Moving Image and Institution: Cinema and the Museum in the 21st Century,” Cambridge University (July 6) argued that economics, more than aesthetics, rule the shift of experimental media from single-channel screenings to art galleries. It will be published in Millennium Film Journal
I continue to see as many experimental film, video, and new media works as I can and to write about them. See recent issues of Millennium Film Journal for my reviews of Takeshi Murata and Mounir Fatmi, The Senses and Society for my review of Noble Sacrifice by Vatche Boulghourjian, and Afterimage for a review of media at Art Dubai.
5. Smells and senses
This topic, central to my books The Skin of the Film and Touch, is never far from my nose though it is marginal to recent research. I still hope to visit a Syrian perfume-knockoff factory. Meanwhile, “Thinking Multisensory Culture” is available in Paragraph 31:2 (July 2008): 123-137, a special issue on cinema and the senses edited by Emma Wilson, and is republished in Art and the Senses (Oxford University Press, 2011).