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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.

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Mirror Neurons and Film Studies

A Cautionary Tale from a Serious Pessimist

Malcolm Turvey


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.

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The New Imitation Game

The Queer Sinitic Potentialities of Internet Romance Games

Carlos Rojas


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


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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Functional Elements of the Moving Image

Philip Cowan


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.

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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


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


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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The Tiger Penis Project

Kuang-Yi Ku


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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Twofoldness in Moving Images

The Philosophy and Neuroscience of Filmic Experience

Joerg Fingerhut


When watching a film, we are seeing-in moving images. Film's visual experience is therefore twofold, encompassing a recognitional (the scene presented, the story told, etc.) and a configurational fold (editing, camera movement, etc.). Although some researchers endorse twofoldness with respect to film, there is also significant resistance and misrepresentations of its very nature. This paper argues that the concept is central to an understanding of the basic apprehension and the aesthetic appreciation of film. It demonstrates how twofoldness could play a more substantial role in a new cognitive film theory and a naturalized aesthetics of film. By discussing recent theories of our motor engagement with cinema it shows how referencing to the interplay of two filmic folds could inform such a theory.