[SCMS 2018] Points in Space: Performance and the Moving Image

deadline for submissions: 
August 27, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Swagato Chakravorty / Yale University

Since the 1960s, marking a transition from a Friedian conception of artistic modernism to one turning around John Cage and his New York circle, performance art has forged a strong relationship to moving-image art writ large. Responding to technological developments across imaging, motion-capture, and virtual or augmented reality research, performance artists have created increasingly sophisticated works that defy ready classification. Frequently considered a consequence of new-media aesthetics and technologies, there is in fact a rich history linking performance and the moving image since cinema’s earliest years: from the abstracted visions of the bodily gyrations of acrobats, strongmen, and dancers; the spectacular tableaux of Serpentine dances (made famous by Loïe Fuller); or indeed the act of projection itself, as was the case for Emile Reynaud and his “Théâtre Optique.”

This panel hopes to facilitate the growing scholarly discourse in this area by exploring ways of historicizing and theorizing the moving image in relation to the performing body. Major art historical publications have in recent years explored the mediation of cinematic spectatorship within performance art (Carrie Lambert-Beatty, Being Watched: Yvonne Rainer and the 1960s), the impact of John Cage on the visual and performing arts (Branden Joseph, Beyond the Dream Syndicate: Tony Conrad and the Arts after Cage), and several anthologies have begun to explore the overlapping fields of performance and moving-image art (A. L. Rees, Expanded Cinema: Art Performance Film).

The scope of this panel is intentionally wide-ranging, both historically and in terms of methodology, in order to underscore the significant potential of this emerging field. Although the most significant publications have emerged mostly in the past twenty years, it welcomes papers spanning the history of the moving image that emphasize the performative dimension in all its aspects. Possible topics include, but are not related to:

- Early cinema’s fascination with the performing body (esp. in relation to the “cinema of attractions”).

- The historical avant-garde’s exploration of cinema and performance (e.g. in Léger, Chaplin, etc.).

- Expanded cinema and performance (e.g. Malcolm Le Grice, Fluxus artists).

- Performance art of the 1960s and the moving image (e.g. Judson Dance experiments).

- The non-Western landscape of performance and the moving image.

- Recent moving-image work, particularly in gallery, museum, and institutional contexts, in relation to performance.

- Theoretical interventions “between” performance studies and cinema and media studies.

Please email an abstract (250-300 words), title, list of works cited (3-5 sources), and brief author bio (500 characters) to Swagato Chakravorty at swagato.chakravorty@yale.edu by August 27. All proposals will be responded to by August 28. Please email with any questions.