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Looking for Something to Signify

Something to Signify Gender Performance and Cuban Masculinity in Viva

David Yagüe González

Abstract

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.

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The New Imitation Game

The Queer Sinitic Potentialities of Internet Romance Games

Carlos Rojas

Abstract

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.

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On Sinofuturism

Resisting Techno-Orientalism in Understanding Kuaishou, Douyin, and Chinese A.I.

Yunying Huang

Abstract

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.

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Queer Sinofuturism

The Aberrant Movements and Posthumanist Mutations of Body, Identity, and Matter in Lu Yang's Uterus Man

Gabriel Remy-Handfield

Abstract

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?

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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)

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Sade for Sade's Sake

Inside Paul Chan's Transmedial Laboratory

Olivier Delers

Abstract

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.

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Kuang-Yi Ku

Abstract

Many cultures have their own systems of alternative medicine, the effectiveness of which cannot always be proven according to contemporary scientific analysis; the use of the tiger penis to increase virility in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is one such practice. While TCM may offer benefits beyond those available through mainstream western medicines, the huge demand for wild animals in TCM poses a threat to endangered species. Can a new interpretation of TCM resolve the conflict between health, culture, and environmental conservation? The Tiger Penis Project proposes the use of emerging biotechnologies to create artificial animal parts for Chinese medical applications both to prevent the further destruction of animals and traditional cultures and to provide more possibilities for the coexistence of human society and the natural environment.

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Voicing Pride and Futurity in the Age of A.I.

An Interview with Playwright Pao-Chang Tsai on Solo Date

Jing Chen and Pao-Chang Tsai

Abstract

This interview deals with the question of queer Sinofuturisms through the works of Pao-Chang Tsai, a Taiwanese performer, playwright, and director who became renowned for exploring the Taiwanese theaterscape with new media and novel performative techniques. With a special focus on his acclaimed theatrical production Solo Date (2016), the conversation inquires into themes of artificial intelligence, queer futurity, and transcultural performance featured in this one-man show. Linking the representation of A.I. interface as queer body with the demand for LGBT rights in Sinophone contexts, Tsai's innovative solo performance has examined changing discourses toward queerness and futurism in the age of advanced artificial intelligence. The touching story of how a gay man struggled to process his grief after losing the love of his life further raises critical ethical questions, since the protagonist's true identity is an A.I. robot.

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Anxious Breath

An Autoethnographic Exploration of Non-binary Queerness, Vulnerability, and Recognition in Step Out

Lara Bochmann and Erin Hampson

Abstract

This article is a theoretical, audiovisual, and personal exploration of being a trans and non-binary person and the challenges this position produces at the moment of entering the outside world. Getting ready to enter public space is a seemingly mundane everyday task. However, in the context of a world that continuously fails or refuses to recognize trans and non-binary people, the literal act of stepping outside can mean to move from a figurative state of self-determination to one of imposition. We produced a short film project called Step Out to delve into issues of vulnerability and recognition that surface throughout experiences of crossing the threshold into public space. It explores the acts performed as preparation to face the world, and invokes the emotions this can conquer in trans and non-binary people. Breathing is the leading metaphor in the film, indicating existence and resistance simultaneously. The article concludes with a discussion of affective states and considers them, along with failed recognition, through the lens of Lauren Berlant's concept of “cruel optimism.”

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Close to You

Karen Carpenter and the Body-Martyr in Queer Memory

Julian Binder

Abstract

There has been much thought given to role of the body as a site of political, physiological, and cultural negotiation. What place then does the beloved and astonishingly affective singer of 1970s soft-rock, Karen Carpenter, occupy in this weighty discourse? Karen's death from complications related to her eating disorder in 1983 shocked the public, eliciting a new wave of cultural consciousness about the embodied nature of mental illness. But beyond the stereotypical white suburban Carpenters fan, Karen and her story had already become a cult favorite amongst the queer avant-garde as soon as four years after death, a mysterious phenomenon that I argue is decidedly queer in its emotional trafficking of Karen's subjectivity, among other areas. This essay explores the ways in which our bodies double as cultural repositories, as hallowed sites of memory, and as icons of martyrdom with the capacity to emit a healing resonance analogous to their fabricated religious counterparts. I must admit, this paper might also be guilty of occasionally engaging in the typical essentializing tendency toward Karen's personhood. For her sake then, reader, I ask you to ponder the following question with the same aversion to neat finality that you apply to your own story as you flip the page: who really was Karen Carpenter?