CFP: Digital Aesthetics of Violence, Journal of Popular Film & Television

Hi folks, SCSMI folks may be interested in this CFPs for a special issue of the Journal of Popular Film & Television.

Since the advent of digital technologies in cinema, notions of realism, authenticity, and affect have driven theoretical and public discourses around the image. Cinema’s origins as a photographic medium of indexicality—in which the representation of a thing can stand in for the thing itself—have been drawn across a new technological face. From real to hyperreal, digital cinema (as well as other media) unites producers’ control over form and content with spectators’ perceptual literacy. How CGI and other forms of digital imaging are deployed specifically for the visual representation of violence is the point at which realism, authenticity, and affect find their most vivid framework. In her account of the aesthetics of violence in contemporary media, Gwyn Symonds proposes a similar spectrum. In considering the “textual representation of violence on a continuum, from the indexical to the most stylized,” she notes that we can make a connection between the “aesthetic aims” of the text and the viewer’s experience of it (2011). Therefore, when we ask what real digital violence looks like, we can examine the complex intersections between social anxieties around offscreen violence and the aesthetic appeal of its onscreen incarnations.
In the two decades since Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump (1994) visualized the dismemberment of a veteran’s legs using digital technology (Prince 1996), there have emerged significant opportunities for media productions to represent, enhance, augment and simulate violence. In the contemporary milieu, where virtually all images originate as digital files that can be endlessly manipulated or regenerated, it is important to question what aesthetic limitations and possibilities are posed by contemporary digital technologies in representing screen violence.
This special issue of the Journal of Popular Film and Television is designed to focus on the implications of the relationship between digital technologies and the aesthetic of violence. Contributors may explore (but are not limited to) questions such as:
• In what ways has the digital aesthetic changed the visual expression of violence in specific traditional media genres—action-adventure, science fiction, horror, crime dramas and police procedurals, etc.?
• How has the increased accessibility and affordability of digital technologies impacted production, reproduction, circulation, consumption of, and discourses around violent imagery?
• What can we learn about the cultural and historical impacts of the real-world violence encountered by citizen reporters transmitting digital video—live and viral—of pro-democracy protests worldwide?
• How has the digital aesthetic reimagined war and combat, from live feeds in war zones to film and television narratives, to videogame battle scenarios? In what ways has this impacted popular and critical reception of war-themed media?
• As digital imaging continues to blur the line between live-action and animation, how has the aesthetic realism of violence changed—for media industries, filmmakers, and spectators?
• How has the audience experience and expectations of cinematic and televisual verisimilitude been transformed by spectacular displays of bodies, vehicles, and skyscrapers programmed into hyperreal collision?
• In what ways are digital capabilities in visual contemporary media shifting non-Western visual culture relative to Western production/exhibition/consumption traditions?
• How has the expression of violence changed over time in light of digital technologies? How might comparative analyses map out diverse aesthetic practices attached to violent imagery across film history? Possibilities: Soviet montage, Italian Neorealism, New Hollywood, the cinemas of Hong Kong (John Woo, Tsui Hark, et al), Australia (from Mad Max to Romper Stomper to Fury Road), and the bloodless blockbuster in the vein of 2012 and The Transformers franchise.
• What impact has the digitized visualization of violence onscreen had on raced, classed, and gendered representations and/or real-world identity formations?

We encourage a variety of academic, historical, critical, analytical, and theoretical approaches, as well as submissions from authors in the popular press. Submissions should be limited to twenty-five pages, double-spaced, and conform to MLA style. Please include a fifty-word abstract and five to seven key words to facilitate online searches. Send an electronic copy no later than October 15, 2015 to Stuart Bender, Department of Film and Television, Curtin University, email OR Lorrie Palmer, Department of Communication and Theatre, DePauw University, email

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