The Chicago School of Media Theory > Home (2003)

[Click to return to 2004 news...]

We look forward to working with our newest member, James Elkins, Chair of the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Chair of the Department of Art History at University College Cork in Ireland. The group is collaborating with the Univerity of Chicago Digital Media lab to render a provisional model for the Hypercube Media Taxonomy Project, which will be presented in late January. In the weeks following the presentation, case studies and commentary will be made available online, along with updates on our other projects.

We are proud to announce the addition of Bill Brown (George M. Pullman Professor, Department of English and Committee on the History of Culture, University of Chicago), Joel Snyder (Professor of Art History, University of Chicago), and Hans Belting (Mary Jane Crowe Professor of Art History, Northwestern University), as faculty advisors to CSMT. They join W. J. T. Mitchell, and we look forward to working with them in the coming months. More information will soon be available in the Members area.

In support of the Hypercube Media Theory Taxonomy Model, members of the Chicago School of Media Theory are working on a grant application for the Provost's Program for Academic Technology Innovation. To get information about Version 2.04 of the Chicago School of Media Theory, please attend the first lecture of W. J. T. Mitchell's Theories of Media course, which will meet Monday, January 5 in Cobb 307 (Film Studies Center).

On Tuesday November 18, Hans Belting will lecture on art history after Modernism. His talk, entitled "At the Doom of Modernism: The Deconstructed Profile of Artwork after 1960," will be held in Fullerton Hall at Art Institute of Chicago, and begins at 6pm. Click here for more information.

Katherine Hayles's presentation, "Rethinking Textuality in a Digital Age," will be held on November 8th at the Chicago Hilton Hotel (6:30 p.m., Northwest 4 Room), 111 S. Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago. Her lecture will conclude a seminar on New Histories of Writing which the Society for Critical Exchange has organized in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Midwest Modern Language Association. Papers will circulate in advance. Click here to view.

The Theories of Media Keywords Glossary is now available; the Introduction will be uploaded in the next few weeks. Click here to view the resource.

On Thursday, October 9, Tom Mitchell will be delivering a lecture at Northwestern University's Block Gallery Auditorium. The talk, entitled "Addressing Media," starts at 5:15 PM and is sponsored by Northwestern's Art History Department. For more information, contact Carrie Lambert.

The Theories of Media Keywords Glossary will be available online before Autumn Quarter 2003; check back in a few weeks for details. CSMT, along with Critical Inquiry and the Department of Art History, will be sponsoring a talk by Hans Belting. His presentation is entitled "Body-Medium-Image," and will take place on Friday, November 14th. Specific time and place TBA.

Congratulations to CSMT's very own Tom Mitchell for winning the University's prestigious Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching. He will be honored at the Spring Convocation on Friday, June 13. Follow this link to the article in The University of Chicago Chronicle or click here for the PDF.

Currently, the group is working on the Hypercube Model of media taxonomy, a project informed by theories in evolutionary taxonomy. They are also considering panel proposals for upcoming conferences, preparing presentations for the Winter 2004 Theories of Media class, and organizing speakers for workshop forums set to begin in Autumn 2004. The Projects and Resources sections will be updated in early June, so please check back then.

Welcome to The Chicago School of Media Theory homepage. We'll be adding to the site every few weeks, so please check back periodically for updates. Long Live the New Flesh!

Cronenbergers and Other Food for Thought
Dan Clinton has been considering questions of medium in Cronenberg's works in order to propose a series to the programming board of Doc films. The basic format is as follows: ten films, five of Cronenberg's, five from other directors, where each Cronenberg filmis paired with another work dealing with the same set of ideas. Videodrome can't be used since it was shown last year. Here are some of the pairings:

1. Dead Ringers
2. Sisters (De Palma)

The Cronenberg film is about twin gynecologists, and the DePalma film is about a pair of young twin girls--one good, one evil. This set lets us problematize the body as a site for mediation, and puts a sinister spin on the sort of signifier/signified relationship which tells us what sits behind a familiar face. Mistaken identity as a manifestation of the Real?

Cybernetics and Cybernetworking (Long Live the New Mind)
3. eXistenZ
4. Ghost in the Shell

We spoke about both of these films in class. For those who haven't seen Ghost in the Shell, it concerns the attempts of a cybernetic woman (a mechanical body, containing a "ghost") to track down a computerized entity known as the Puppetmaster. This film poses questions regarding encoding (organisms -- living and otherwise), game architectures, and the possible transcendence (or at least complication) of the distinction between the actual and the virtual. Who is a puppet? Game character? What happens to the world when machines start to pass the Turing Test? Or perhaps to adapt Kittler, what will it mean when machines cease to fail the Turing Test?

Ghost Hacking
5. Scanners
6. The Exorcist

We're not altogether at ease with this pairing, but it feeds nicely into the set of ideas raised above, particularly the notion of the hyper-extended man (through networking or telepathy), the ability to simulate/displace personality, the possibility of reprogramming organic organisms. And what can be said of the hacker and Satan in terms of mythological archetypes? Issues of adolescence and paternity?

7. M. Butterfly
8. Ranma

This is the replacement pair for Videodrome, which Doc won't screen in consecutive years (it was part of last year's TV series. We haven't decided WHICH incarnation of Ranma to draw on) but the central theme is, as the title asserts, gender-bending. Watch some Ranma and you'll understand what we mean.

Memory Puzzles: Mind Machines
9. Spider
10. Memento

This pairing will be useful for an analysis of the human mind, especially the operation of memory, through examples of minds subverting themselves. Spider transforms a problem of narrative perspective (the protagonist remembers scenes which he could not possibly have witnessed first-hand) into a horror story of free-association and misrecogniti on. Plenty of "web" metaphors: broken glass (as evidence of a crime), strings (an actual web), a densely-scrawled notebook, yet no visible technology makes its way into the film, save pencil and paper.

[Click to return to 2004 news...]