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Artists, writers, and filmmakers from Andy Warhol and J. G. Ballard to Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu and Ousmane Sembne have repeatedly used representations of immobilized and crashed cars to wrestle with the conundrums of modernity. In Crash, Karen Beckman argues that representations of the crash parallel the encounter of film with other media, and that these collisions between media offer useful ways to think about alterity, politics, and desire. Examining the significance of automobile collisions in film genres including the "cinema of attractions," slapstick comedies, and industrial-safety movies, Beckman reveals how the car crash gives visual form to fantasies and anxieties regarding speed and stasis, risk and safety, immunity and contamination, and impermeability and penetration. Her reflections on the crash as the traumatic, uncertain moment of inertia that comes in the wake of speed and confidence challenge the tendency in cinema studies to privilege movement above film's other qualities. Ultimately, Beckman suggests that film studies is a hybrid field that cannot apprehend its object of study without acknowledging the ways that cinema's technology binds it to capitalism's industrial systems and other media, technologies, and disciplines.
In Still Moving noted artists, filmmakers, art historians, and film scholars explore the boundary between cinema and photography. The interconnectedness of the two media has emerged as a critical concern for scholars in the field of cinema studies responding to new media technologies, and for those in the field of art history confronting the ubiquity of film, video, and the projected image in contemporary art practice. Engaging still, moving, and ambiguous images from a wide range of geographical spaces and historical moments, the contributors to this volume address issues of indexicality, medium specificity, and hybridity as they examine how cinema and photography have developed and defined themselves through and against one another. Foregrounding the productive tension between stasis and motion, two terms inherent to cinema and to photography, the contributors trace the shifting contours of the encounter between still and moving images across the realms of narrative and avant-garde film, photography, and installation art. Still Moving suggests that art historians and film scholars must rethink their disciplinary objects and boundaries, and that the question of medium specificity is a necessarily interdisciplinary question. From a variety of perspectives, the contributors take up that challenge, offering new ways to think about what contemporary visual practice is and what it will become. Contributors: George Baker, Rebecca Baron, Karen Beckman, Raymond Bellour, Zoe Beloff,Timothy Corrigan, Nancy Davenport, Atom Egoyan, Rita Gonzalez, Tom Gunning, Louis Kaplan, Jean Ma, Janet Sarbanes, Juan A. Surez
With the help of mirrors, trap doors, elevators, photographs, and film, women vanish and return in increasingly spectacular ways throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Karen Beckman tracks the proliferation of this elusive figure, the vanishing woman, from her genesis in Victorian stage magic through her development in conjunction with photography and film. Beckman reveals how these new visual technologies projected their anxieties about insubstantiality and reproducibility onto the female body, producing an image of "woman" as utterly unstable and constantly prone to disappearance. Drawing on cinema studies and psychoanalysis as well as the histories of magic, spiritualism, and photography, Beckman looks at particular instances of female vanishing at specific historical moments--in Victorian magic's obsessive manipulation of female and colonized bodies, spiritualist photography's search to capture traces of ghosts, the comings and goings of bodies in early cinema, and Bette Davis's multiple roles as a fading female star. As Beckman places the vanishing woman in the context of feminism's discussion of spectacle and subjectivity, she explores not only the problems, but also the political utility of this obstinate figure who hovers endlessly between visible and invisible worlds. Through her readings, Beckman argues that the visibly vanishing woman repeatedly signals the lurking presence of less immediately perceptible psychic and physical erasures, and she contends that this enigmatic figure, so ubiquitous in late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century culture, provides a new space through which to consider the relationships between visibility, gender, and agency.