Welcome to the first issue of Projections for 2021. After a brief hiatus from printing due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, we are once again publishing online and in print. (A reminder to members of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image [SCSMI]: an online subscription to Projections is now the default inclusion for memberships; members who would prefer to receive hard copies can do so by paying a small surcharge.) I would like to thank the team at Berghahn, especially Janine Latham, for their ongoing support. Thanks too are due to associate editors Aaron Taylor and Tim Smith, along with Katalin Bálint who covered for Tim while he was on leave. Finally, I would like to extend special thanks to our referees in 2020 who willing donated their time to support us during what was a very difficult year for everyone. The names of all referees for 2020 are listed below as an acknowledgment of their service.
From the Editor
Carl Plantinga and Malcolm Turvey
Friends and colleagues of Stephen Prince were shocked and saddened to learn of his death at the age of sixty-five on 30 December 2020 in Blacksburg, Virginia, after a brief illness. Steve was a good friend to many, a prolific scholar with a deep love of cinema, a beloved teacher, a trusted and valued colleague, and a generous mentor to younger scholars.
This interview with Paul Schrader, conducted by Todd Berliner, took place on 19 June 2020 as part of the annual meeting of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image (SCSMI). It has been edited and condensed for clarity. We are grateful to Mr. Schrader for his participation and permission to publish this transcription, to Professor Berliner for conducting the interview, and to Professor Carl Plantinga for organizing it.
An Interview with Author Ta-wei Chi on the New Translation of The Membranes
Jane Chi Hyun Park and Ta-wei Chi
This interview is based on a series of email exchanges in November 2019 between Taiwanese writer and scholar Ta-wei Chi and Korean American scholar Jane Chi Hyun Park about Chi's queer speculative novella, The Membranes. The first section provides a summary of the novella, which was recently translated into English by Ari Heinrich. The second section paints a picture in broad brush strokes of the contexts in which Chi wrote The Membranes—taking into consideration key cross-cultural influences and critical reception in Taiwan in the 1990s. It also examines the cultural and political relevance of Chi's creative predictions about the future within the present historical moment. Finally, it explores afterlives for the novella in the form of sequels and possible cinematic adaptations.
Andrew J. Ball
I am pleased to begin the final issue of the year with a very special announcement. Screen Bodies is modifying its editorial direction and the kind of work it will feature. Many of our readers will already have a sense of these changes, made evident by the new Aims and Scope section we made available online earlier this summer, and by the journal's new subtitle, The Journal of Embodiment, Media Arts, and Technology. As these indicate, the foundational commitments of the journal remain unchanged; however, moving forward will we intensify our focus on new media art, technology studies, and the interface of the sciences and the humanities. We will continue to examine the cultural, aesthetic, ethical, and political dimensions of emerging technologies, but with a renewed attention to such areas as intermediality, human–machine interface, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, generative art, smart environments, immersive and interactive installations, machine learning, biotechnology, computer science, digital culture, and digital humanities. The journal will continue to prioritize matters of the body and screen media, both in terms of representation and engagement, but will emphasize research that critically reexamines those very concepts, as, for example, in the case of object-oriented feminism's nonanthropocentric approach, which asks us to rethink what we mean by bodies and embodiment.
Film Studies and Analytic Aesthetics in Dialogue
Mario Slugan and Enrico Terrone
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.
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?
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.
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?