Research Interests

1. Experiments in Arab Cinema and Media Art 2. Enfolding-Unfolding Aesthetics 3. Islamic Genealogies of New Media Art 4. Media Art and Experimental Cinema 5. Haptic Visuality 6. Smells and Senses 7. Plant Life

1. Hanan al-Cinema: Affections for the Moving Image
forthcoming 2015, MIT Press

This book in press 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

Recent screenings

“Experiments in Arab Cinema: The Glitch Program; Unbearable Beauty; The Body in the Archive,” Simon Fraser University, Woodward's campus, Vancouver. November 15-16, 2013
Experiments in Arab Cinema: The Traveling Program.” Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver. September 15, 2013

Forthcoming
Experiments in Arab Cinema. MIT Press. Expected publication date fall 2015.
“Arab Glitch,” in Uncommon Grounds: New Media and Visual Practice in the Middle East and North Africa, ed. Anthony Downey (I.B. Tauris/Ibraaz Publishing, 2014).
"Arab media art: experiments in exhibition," in
Film Festival Yearbook: Film Festivals and the Middle East, ed. Dina Iordanova and Stefanie Van de Peer (St. Andrews University Press, 2014)

Student writing
“Dossier on Media Art in the Arab World,” Spring 2014 Catalogue: a collection of student writings

Some publications (for more see CV page)
“Getting in Touch: Palestinian Video from Haptic Image to Networked Space," in Palestinian Video Art; Constellation of the Moving Image, ed. Bashir Makhoul (Jerusalem: Palestinian Art Court, 2013).
“Imaginal Materials,” catalogue essay,
Spectral Imprints, Abraaj Capital Art Prize, ed. Nat Muller (2012). Available on Selected Writings page.
Enfolding-unfolding aesthetics in the work of Mohamed Soueid and The Otolith Group, talk at the Center for Media and Religion, New York University, October 14, 2011. Available on Selected Writings page.
“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. Available on Selected Writings page.
“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”. Also available on Selected Writings page.
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). Available on Selected Writings page.
“What Is That ‘And’ between Arab Women and Video? The Case of Beirut,” Camera Obscura 18:2 (December): 41-70. Available on Selected Writings page.
“Signs of the time: Deleuze, Peirce and the documentary image,” in The Brain Is the Screen: Gilles Deleuze's Cinematic Philosophy, ed. Gregory Flaxman (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press), 193-214. Available on Selected Writings page.

Talks
"Cinematic friendships: intercessors, collectives, and collaborations in Arab media arts," talk at the conference "Being With…," IKKM, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. April 18, 2013
"Experiments in Arab Cinema," talk at Goldsmith's College, London. January 17, 2013
"Getting in Touch: Palestinian Video from Haptic Image to Networked Space," talk at Lund University, Sweden. January 14, 2013
"Fabulation and Imaginal in Hadjithomas and Joreige’s
Je Veux Voir," talk on the panel "Taking Place: Media Objects, Media Histories, and Middle East Studies," Middle East Studies Association annual conference, Denver. November 19, 2012

2. Islamic genealogies more info
I seek and invent roots in Islamic art and philosophy for contemporary media art and thought. Since the publication of Enfoldment and Infinity, looking at Ibn Sînâ and Mulla Sadrâ Shirazî for sources and parallels to the thought of Spinoza, Leibniz, Whitehead, and Deleuze; and spending more time with traveling ceramics.

Forthcoming
"Life in the Manifold: Mulla Sadra, Deleuze, Whitehead," [translated into Portuguese], Conexões, University of Campinas, Sao Paulo
"The taming of the haptic space, from Málaga to Valencia to Florence," Muqarnas, special issue on visuality in Islamic art, ed. Olga Bush and Avinoam Shalem
“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.

Some publications (for more see CV page)
Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010.
"From haptic to optical, performance to figuration: A history of representation at the bottom of a bowl," in
Islam and the Politics of Culture in Europe: Memory, Aesthetics, Art, ed. Frank Peter, Sarah Dornhof, and Elena Arigita (Bielefeld: Transcript-Verlag, 2013), 247-263.
“Imaginal Materials,” catalogue essay,
Spectral Imprints, ed. Nat Muller, Abraaj Capital Art Prize, 2012
“A Deleuzian Ijtihad: Unfolding Deleuze’s Islamic sources occulted in the ethnic cleansing of Spain,” in
Deleuze and Race, ed. Arun Saldhana Edinburgh University Press, 2012). Available on Selected Writings page.
"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). Available on Selected Writings page.


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, Ibn Sînâ and Deleuze on the univocity of being, and the process philosophies of A.N. Whitehead and Mulla Sadra.

Here’s a picture:


Published
“Noise in Enfolding-Unfolding Aesthetics,” The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media, ed. Amy Herzog, John Richardson and Carol Vernallis (Oxford UP, 2013)
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)
“Information, Secrets, and Enigmas: An Enfolding-Unfolding Aesthetics for Cinema,”
Screen 50th anniversary issue 50:1 (Spring 2009), 86-98
“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). Available on Selected Writings page.
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. Available on Selected Writings page.

Student writing:
Dossier on Enfolding-Unfolding Aesthetics,” Summer 2012 Catalogue: a collection of student writings

Forthcoming
“Monad, Database, Remix: Manners of Unfolding in John Akomfrah’s The Last Angel of History,” in special issue of Black Camera on Black Audio Film Collective, ed. Matthias De Groof
"Enfolding-unfolding aesthetics: What gesture draws an image into the visible; what gesture hides it away?",
Visual Culture and the Aesthetics of Gesture, ed. Asbjørn Gronsted (Routledge)
“Enfolding-Unfolding aesthetics, or the unthought at the heart of wood,” in
Technology and Desire: The Transgressive Art of Moving Images, ed. Rania Gaafar and Martin Schulz (Karlsruhe: ZKM and London: Intellect Books)
Thinking like a carpet: embodied perception and individuation in algorithmic media,” in Entautomatisierung [Deautomatization], ed. Annette Brauerhoch et al. (Paderborn, Germany: Wilhelm Fink)

4. Media art and experimental cinema
“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 (2011) argued that economics, more than aesthetics, rule the shift of experimental media from single-channel screenings to art galleries. It is published in Millennium Film Journal 55 (Spring 2012): 14-23.
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.

Forthcoming
Hanan al-Cinema: Affections for the Moving Image. MIT Press. Forthcoming, fall 2015.
“Monad, Database, Remix: Manners of Unfolding in John Akomfrah’s The Last Angel of History,” in special issue of Black Camera on Black Audio Film Collective, ed. Matthias De Groof

Talks

"From single-channel to installation: questions regarding distribution and artists' rights," talk on the panel "Avantgarde: Lost in Time and Space," International Experimental Media Congress: THINK, FILM!, Berlin, October 13

5. Haptic visuality
My best-known work, inspired by Deleuze and Guattari’s take on Aloïs Riegl’s visual theories. Its first iteration was a 1993 presentation of “The haptic critic” at “La jeune critique aujourd'hui,” École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris.
The first major article was “Video haptics and erotics,”
Screen 39:4 (Winter 1998): 331-348.
A characterization of haptic media, and the theory that haptic visuality gives rise to embodied sense memory, are further developed in
The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (2000)
Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art (2010) follows Riegl back to his sources as a textile curator and identifies haptic space and abstract line at work in Islamic art. I argue that Islamic aesthetics introduced these forms to European art.
I offer a critique of haptic aesthetics in “Getting in Touch: Palestinian Video from Haptic Image to Networked Space," in Palestinian Video Art: Constellation of the Moving Image, ed. Bashir Makhoul (Jerusalem: Palestinian Art Court, 2013)

Most recent:
“Haptic Aesthetics,” Routledge Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, 2014.

6. 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. It’s less likely than ever that I will get to visit a Syrian perfume-knockoff factory. “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) and Carnal Aesthetics, ed. Bettina Papenburg and Marta Zarzycka (Routledge, 2013).
I occasionally give olfactory lectures, such as
"Aromatic Events: how plant communication makes us more than human," at the conference "The Secret Life of Plants," Princeton. May 3, 2013 and in Vancouver for the Institute for Social Research, Or Gallery, November 25, 2013.

7. Plant life
“Vegetable Locomotion: A Deleuzian ethics/aesthetics of traveling plants,” in
Revisiting Normativity with Deleuze, ed. Rosi Braidotti and Patricia Pisters (London: Continuum, 2012)
"Aromatic Events: how plant communication makes us more than human," at the conference "The Secret Life of Plants," Princeton. May 3, 2013