Thursday, May 24, 2012

A bit of permanence

In 2008, Scott Balcerzak and Jason Sperb, co-editors of the book, Cinephilia in the Age of Digital Reproduction, Vol. 1, invited me to join their panel at the Society of Cinema and Media Studies annual meeting. It was a moment of true happenstance, given that the meeting was held in my home city of Philadelphia. I graciously accepted the offer and focused my presentation on the contributions of internet writing to film criticism and cinephilia, particularly how it might redefine and collapse the space between the two. (Back then, my writing approach was more polemical, reflected by the longer posts.) The presentation went about as well as it could have, when you take into account that I'm a nervous wreck of a public speaker. I was more impressed by the uniquely focused presentations by the other panelists. Afterwards, Jason and Scott asked if I would be interested in contributing something for their planned second volume of the Cinephilia book series. Again, I accepted with equal feelings of excitement and trepidation.
Four years later, I am pleased to report that the outcome of that conversation has taken shape in the form of Cinephilia in the Age of Digital Reproduction, Vol. 2. The book aims to illuminate the larger historical and global contexts of the changes in technology and film spectatorship in recent years. My contribution is a chapter entitled "Revisioning Critical Space in the Digital Age." It represents an attempt to synthesize elements of my 2008 SCMS presentation with some writings that I've done here at The Cinematic Art. In retrospect, I wish I had given more time and energy to the product. But, having said that, I am generally pleased with the piece. It is not the definitive argument for my platform but its very publication may represent an important step in realizing the broader perspective of a kind of "critical cinephilia" that it outlines. It's also worth noting that it is an incredibly dated essay. I suppose that's the nature of the beast when it comes to academic publishing, but I cannot help but note the irony of an essay about the shifting state of media relations and film viewership that in some ways is already obsolete.
Limitations notwithstanding, the article is a standing reminder of what is possible in the digital age. On a personal level, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction that my small contribution to the still-growing network of film writing in the digital sphere has secured a bit of analogic permanence in print. When I started this blog five years ago, I had no inclination that it would result in a presentation at an academic conference and a chapter in a prominent book series in film studies. I am profoundly grateful to Jason and Scott for taking notice of The Cinematic Art—flaws and all (and there are many)—and seeing its potential. Moreover, I am thankful to them for providing me the opportunity to stand amongst scholars and argue the value of this format as an intermediary to criticism and cinephilia.

Cinephilia in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Film, Pleasure and Digital Culture, Vol. 2 is available now through Columbia University Press and can also be purchased via Amazon.

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