Emergency & Emergence – Fall 2018


USC Cinema and Media Studies Graduate Conference
In Cooperation with USC Interdivisional Media Arts and Practice PhD Program

Los Angeles, CA – October 18-20, 2018

USC, School of Cinematic Arts First Forum invites submissions that explore the many meanings and implications of the concept of emergency in relation to cinema and media scholars and practitioners. The concept of exception, anomaly, and crisis pervade both contemporary aesthetics and academic discourse, connected to Giorgio Agamben’s “state of exception.” In an emergency situation, the drive toward immediate response often disrupts perceptions of what is acceptable or permissible behavior. “Fake news,” live streaming, augmented reality, and dystopian fiction all exemplify responses to or attempts to reckon with moments of crisis or instability. These forms often emphasize dissolution and destruction in a reactionary mode. While the contingency of an emergency state suggests precarity and uncertainty, it also suggests the possibility of new aesthetic, political, and social modes that have yet to be realized. Emergence can not only be theorized, but also practiced. What does media produced under states of emergency look and sound like? What is the role of the artist in moments of crisis?

We seek to complicate this negative framework by bringing emergency into conversation with the connected term emergence. Emergency and emergence can be considered catalytic concepts, cultivating moments of potential and fostering new forms of organization to respond to an emergency’s urgent call. What kinds of action are motivated by emergency thinking? How do viewers respond to media produced under emergency conditions? What other vocabularies might be employed to characterize radical change or a disruption in norms? Is there a way to conceptualize emergency that takes into consideration different modalities and histories? We invite interrogation of the potential of the theory and practice of emergency and of alternatives to this term, as ways of thinking about social, political, technological, and aesthetic transformations that occur during times of uncertainty.

We encourage open exploration of the terms emergency and emergence and invite researchers, artists, and scholars of all backgrounds to propose artworks, academic presentations, films, papers, performances, workshops, and other interventions which explore one of the following themes:

  1. Practice-based work responding to crisis
  2. Media technologies in both theory and practice
  3. Journalism and propaganda
  4. News and information (i.e. 24-hour news cycle, online fora, live streaming, etc.)
  5. Political, humanitarian, and activist documentary
  6. Live streaming
  7. “Fake news” and concepts of truth
  8. Ecology, the environment, climate change
  9. Utopias and dystopias
  10. Revolution and social action
  11. Alternate forms of historiography and history-making
  12. Aesthetic theories of emergence and systematicity

In addition to panel presentations, we will have a keynote speaker, alumni respondents, a faculty roundtable, workshops and an exhibition.

Conference Organizers:

CAMS Co-Chairs: Allison Ross & Michael Anthony Turcios
IMAP Chair: Szilvia Ruszev
Organizing Committee : Jonathan Mackris, Laurel Rogers, Dan Lark, Szilvia Ruszev, Achala Upendran, & Maggie Woodward
Treasurer: Dan Lark
Review Board: Allison Ross, Michael Anthony Turcios, Szilvia Ruszev,  Laurel Rogers, Sophia Wagner Serrano, Chae Park, & Emma Ben Ayoun
Design: Maggie Woodward & Elisa Aprà
Web Design: Laurel Rogers & Maggie Woodward
Publicity: Jonathan Mackris, Laurel Rogers, Dan Lark, Szilvia Ruszev, Achala Upendran, & Maggie Woodward
Volunteers Coordinator: Jonathan Mackris