Constellations – Fall 2019

When gazing at the sky, one turns to the billions of specks occupying the universe, an infinite space where visible and invisible galactic matter creates multidimensional shapes and figures. Throughout history, the cosmos has served as a site of epistemological enunciation. In connecting and linking disparate star systems, societies have advanced knowledge and created constellations. Constellations as metaphor moves one beyond discussions of the universe. In this regard, cinema, media, and visual culture have mediated our imagination on constellations. From planetariums and large screens projecting images of the enigmatic universe, to films imagining worlds outside of our own galaxy, to television and radio networks sending out sound and image via wavelengths, and to transmedia organizing, constellations are projections and imagined networks.

One can add that constellations have guided people to situate themselves within the universe; to shift their geographical and migratory positions; to measure and keep track of time; to sync to nature; and to preserve history and culture. Discrete points are the vital infrastructure supporting constellations; effacing points would compromise the integrity of the figure and radically transform its meaning and image.

Constellations are created when mapping and charting geographies, struggles, and movements. This allows one to rethink how their positionality and temporality link and relate disparate spaces, objects, and peoples. For example, sentient and non-sentient beings have formed their own social constellations, creating networks, circles, communities, and support systems. One can argue that media creates its own constellations, especially when mediums rely on other media systems: transmedia, intermedia, social media, and “cloud” sharing devices.

While constellations consist of connections that create imaginary shapes, objects, and figures, one must nuance the specificity of each point and raise questions that help one confront the precarity of constellations. Disruption enters the picture, threatening the integrity of the shape.

Imagining new constellations is hermeneutical. The act of imagining opens the possibility for third spaces, making room for new worlds, and forming connections that were otherwise impossible. When imagining constellations, one leaves open the possibility of adapting to new changes, allowing new points to enter and emerge, and respect the existence of other constellations in the vicinity. Cinema, media, and visual culture has been generative in this endeavor.

What happens when points are not granted their specificity? Can a point disengage from one constellation and align itself with others to create new constellations? What are the consequences when external forces seek to erase points in order to undo the power of unity in constellations? What is lost when constellations cease to exist? How is sound, moving images, and other media implicated in the creation and disruption of constellations?

The First Forum 2019 organizing committee welcomes papers, artwork, and creative projects that expand, complicate, and reconsider the metaphor of constellations in relation to sound and moving images. Papers outside the field of cinema and media are strongly encouraged.

List of possible topics:

  • Indigenous Media and Culture
  • Social Justice Struggles
  • Cinematic and Televisual Universes and Crossovers
  • Soundscapes
  • Disparate Archival Material
  • Territoriality/Deterritoriality and Time and Memory
  • Nature, ecosystems, and the Anthropocene
  • Phenomenology
  • (Afro)futurisms; Speculative Futures
  • Wayfinding and Navigation
  • Feminist Science Studies/Science and Technology Studies (STS)/History of Science; Virtual Reality
  • Megacinema and Planetariums
  • The Astrological Turn
  • Star Studies

Please direct queries to Michael Anthony Turcios.

Conference Organizers:

Chair: Michael Anthony Turcios,
Committee Members: Harry Hvdson, Ran Zhou
Treasurer: Jessica Yang
Designer: Alex Hack