Since the 1970s with Stanley Cavell's work, and later with contributions such as those by Noël Carroll, George Wilson, Gregory Currie, and Berys Gaut, film has become a respectable object of philosophizing among Anglo-Saxon philosophers. Still, when it comes to the relationship between film and philosophy, the focus is mostly on how philosophy can help better understand film with little or nothing on how film studies can contribute to philosophical aesthetics. This special issue is aimed at encouraging a more balanced interaction between analytic aesthetics and film studies.
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Film Studies and Analytic Aesthetics in Dialogue
Mario Slugan and Enrico Terrone
Toward a Queer Sinofuturism
Ari Heinrich, Howard Chiang, and Ta-wei Chi
This special issue on “Queer Sinofuturisms” aims to explore how artists and writers working across various media in Sinophone contexts use science to envision—and indeed to fabulate—non-normative gender and erotic expressions in relation to the corporeal future of humanity. By investigating visions of the future that incorporate queerness and creative applications of computer and biotechnology, “Queer Sinofuturisms” aims to counter pervasive techno-Orientalist discourses, such as those discourses in the Blade Runner movies (Ridley Scott, 1982; and Denis Villeneuve, 2017) that frame “Asian” futures as strictly dystopian—and heteronormative by default. What happens, this issue of Screen Bodies asks, if we simultaneously destabilize techno-Orientalist narratives of the future while queering assumptions about the heteronormativity so often inscribed upon that future in mainstream iterations and embodiments? What kinds of fabulous fabulations might emerge?
Looking for Something to Signify
Something to Signify Gender Performance and Cuban Masculinity in Viva
David Yagüe González
The behaviors and actions that an individual carries out in their daily life and how they are translated by their society overdetermine the gender one might have—or not—according to social norms. However, do the postulates enounced by feminist and queer Western thinkers still maintain their validity when the context changes? Can the performances of gender carry out their validity when the landscape is other than the one in Europe or the United States? And how can the context of drag complicate these matters? These are the questions that this article will try to answer by analyzing the 2015 movie Viva by Irish director Paddy Breathnach.
Mirror Neurons and Film Studies
A Cautionary Tale from a Serious Pessimist
This article surveys some of the major criticisms of mirror neuron explanations of human behavior within neuroscience and philosophy of mind. It then shows how these criticisms pertain to the recent application of mirror neuron research to account for some of our responses to movies, particularly our empathic response to film characters and our putative simulation of anthropomorphic camera movements. It focuses especially on the “egocentric” conception of the film viewer that mirror neuron research appears to license. In doing so, it develops a position called “serious pessimism” about the potential contribution of neuroscience to the study of film and art by building upon the “moderate pessimism” recently proposed by philosopher David Davies. It also offers some methodological recommendations for how film scholars should engage with the sciences.
The New Imitation Game
The Queer Sinitic Potentialities of Internet Romance Games
Taking as its starting point the “original” variant of Alan Turing's famous “imitation game” (in which a test subject attempts to differentiate, based purely on textual output, between a man and a woman), this article considers the ways in which gender and sexuality are simulated in the contemporary genre of virtual romance or dating video games. The article focuses on three Sinitic games, each of which strategically queers this predominantly heteronormative genre. In queering desire, moreover, these Sinitic games simultaneously suggest ways in which Chinese society itself may also be strategically queered.
Resisting Techno-Orientalism in Understanding Kuaishou, Douyin, and Chinese A.I.
Dominant design narratives about “the future” contain many contemporary manifestations of “orientalism” and Anti-Chineseness. In US discourse, Chinese people are often characterized as a single communist mass and the primary market for which this future is designed. By investigating the construction of modern Chinese pop culture in Chinese internet and artificial intelligence, and discussing different cultural expressions across urban, rural, and queer Chinese settings, I challenge external Eurocentric and orientalist perceptions of techno-culture in China, positing instead a view of Sinofuturism centered within contemporary Chinese contexts.
Functional Elements of the Moving Image
Analyzing moving images is one of the fundamental practices in our attempt to understand the medium. Building on Noël Carroll's functional theory of film style, this article attempts to define a taxonomy of functional elements of shot composition in order to establish a clear methodology for the analysis of a moving image. Carroll criticizes forms of stylistic analysis that limit themselves to a few pre-selected aspects of the moving image, for example, genre motifs, individual filmmakers’ personal traits, or broad studies of film movements. Numerous writers have presented breakdowns of component parts of a moving image, often in wider discussions of film form. However these lists are often incomplete or do not have a clear methodology. This article identifies the key components of a moving image that could serve a functional purpose in individual films.
The Aberrant Movements and Posthumanist Mutations of Body, Identity, and Matter in Lu Yang's Uterus Man
In this article, I consider posthumanist and techno-scientific aesthetics in Lu Yang's short film Uterus Man (2013), a film in which a male superhero is interrogating the capacities of a body to mutate, affect, and to be affected. Profoundly influenced by Japanese popular cultural forms such as manga and anime, the artist also draws on sources ranging from Buddhism to developments in neuroscience and biology. I will use the work of post-Deleuzian thinkers Luciana Parisi and David Lapoujade to investigate how the different transformations of the body shown in Uterus Man chart the unpredictable capacity for bodies and matter to mutate in contemporary techno-aesthetic landscapes. In its ambiguity, can Uterus Man contribute to the emergence of a queer Sinofuturism? And what kind of future does the perverse superhero of Uterus Man represent?
Tru Leverette and Barbara Mennel
Zélie Asava. Mixed Race Cinemas: Multiracial Dynamics in America and France (New York Bloomsbury, 2017). 216 pp., ISBN: 1501312456 (paperback: $35.96)
Elizabeth Otto and Patrick Rössler, eds. Bauhaus Bodies: Gender, Sexuality, and Body Culture in Modernism's Legendary Art School (New York: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2019). xl +345 pp., ISBN: 9781501344787 (hardback, $110), (paperback, $29.95)
Sade for Sade's Sake
Inside Paul Chan's Transmedial Laboratory
This article focuses on Paul Chan's 2007 art project Sade for Sade's Sake, which brings together a five-hour-long video installation, a number of drawings and collages, and a series of fonts inspired by the Marquis de Sade's writings called “alternumerics.” I argue that Chan is engaged in a transmedial process that is intensely visual and performative and that actualizes Sade's aesthetics by reconfiguring the textual logorrhea central to his writing style. In his video installation, Chan imagines a new kind of sexual tableau that seeks to “show it all,” but also turns the larger political statement that his project set out to make into an abstract exploration of forms. In Sade for Sade's Sake, Chan suggests that Sade is caught in a transmedial loop. Sade's writings are channeled into different types of visual media that try to convey the nature of his worldview and to capture its essence. In the end, however, images make way for a new kind of Sadean language that is based on the original texts but that also tends toward abstraction and the endless repetition of the same patterns.