[UPDATE] Face, Faces, The Phenomenology of Face, Conference, October 19-22, 2014, Athens, Georgia

full name / name of organization: 
Nomadikon Center for the Visual Arts, Bergen, NO and The Center for the Ethics of Seeing, Albany, NY
contact email: 
ledbettm@strose.edu

“Face, Faces, The Phenomenology of the Face”

In his Theory of the Film (1952), Bela Balázs wrote that “[f]acial expression is the most subjective manifestation of man, more subjective than speech.” In the close-up, the Hungarian film theorist and writer saw an image unbound by time and space, thus identifying the point at which the film image could become a concept, a supremely expressive unit of signification closer than other types of images to thought. In contemporary visual culture, the visibility of the face is a given, and some would perhaps claim that its presence has become almost ubiquitous. Consider for instance that in 2013 Oxford Dictionaries named selfie the word of the year. Yet despite its cultural pervasiveness, the face remains a curiously overlooked subject of research in the humanities and social sciences.

For this conference, we invite papers from any discipline that engage with faciality and the face as a phenomenological, social, cultural, aesthetic, visual, literary, philosophical, semiotic, historical, and textual object. Particularly welcome are discussions that explore the concept and materiality of the face in the arts, with their rich traditions for representing faciality – photography, cinema studies, art history, literature, dance, theatre and performance, and social media and the digital arts. As an aesthetic category spanning a range of different media, the face often seems potentially self-referential. When drawing attention to itself, the face may become a source of opacity which inhibits the hermeneutic flow, something which strips away all context until the only thing we are left with is its sheer material presence. The filmic face is also enigmatic. The film theorist Richard Rushton (2002) has observed that we tend to suppose that the face is hiding something, that it represents “a surface haunted by intimations of concealment, interiority and exteriority.” Taking the impenetrability of the face as its point of departure, then, this conference encourages submissions on a variety of topics relating to the face and faciality, including but in no way limited to the following: the close-up and its long history in the moving arts (i.e. Dreyer, Bergman, Warhol, Cassavetes, Leone, Godard, Pasolini, Tarkovsky, Egoyan, Assayas and Kiarostami, to name just a few); the face as a mask (the poker face or blackface, but also in Heidegger’s conception of the image—the Latin imago—as a death mask); the face as a site of ethical encounter in the philosophy of Levinas (face-to-face); Deleuze’s notion of the affection-image, or his study of the dismantling of face in the portrait paintings of Francis Bacon; the cinematic reaction shot; the culture of Facebook and the “selfie;” the portrait genre throughout art history; the face as pure surface or exteriority (the face of the earth); the face in relation to ethnicity/race/gender; the digital interface; the various permutations of the look/the gaze/the glance; the face and sexuality; the face of/face and disability; iconicity and the face; the face and ethics; the veiled face; the face and iconophobia – etc.

Proposals of 150 to 300 words on the conference theme should be submitted to Mark Ledbetter, ledbettm@strose.edu by July 20, 2014. Conference organizers are looking for 30 -35 participants for the two and a half day conference in Athens, Georgia. The conference will be held at the Foundry Inn in downtown Athens. This conference is a continued partnership between the Nomadikon Center for Visual Culture, Bergen, Norway and The Center for the Ethics of Seeing, Albany, New York. The previous conference in this partnership was "The Ecologies of Seeing," hosted in the fall of 2012 at The College of Saint Rose, Albany, New York. We invite traditional academic papers, performance pieces, and all other forms of visual art and culture related to the theme. Registration for the conference is $130.00. For further information, contact Mark Ledbetter, ledbettm@strose.edu, susan.cumings@gmail.com, or Theresa Flanigan, flanigat@strose.edu

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