Thursday, October 14, 2010
In Kracauer’s Shadow: Physical Reality and the Digital Afterlife of the Photographic Image
The work of Siegfried Kracauer is often seen as incompatible with the digital turn. As a champion of the material world, Kracauer is assumed to have nothing to contribute to conceptualizing how digital images replace the real with the simulated, the indexical with binary code. This presentation provides a different perspective. Kracauer’s work, Koepnick argues, invites us to explore decisive continuities between chemically and electronically based modes of photography and to understand the recent prominence of the pixel as part of a much larger and ambivalent process of rationalization and disenchantment. More relevant than usually thought, Kracauer offers intriguing insights about the nature of the photographic image, the concept of medium specificity, and the place of nature in a society of electronic simulation. Koepnick’s presentation examines these insights and illustrates their usefulness by analyzing contemporary photographic work.
Lutz Koepnick is Professor of German, Film, & Media Studies and Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis. He has written widely on German film, visual culture, and literature, on media arts and aesthetics, and on critical theory and cultural politics.
Book publications include Framing Attention: Windows on Modern German Culture (2007); The Dark Mirror: German Cinema between Hitler and Hollywood (2002); Walter Benjamin and the Aesthetics of Power (1999); and Nothungs Modernität: Wagners Ring und die Poesie der Politik im neunzehnten Jahrhundert (1994). Co-edited or co-authored volumes include After the Digital Divide? German Aesthetic Theory in the Age of New Media (2009); Window | Interface (2007); The Cosmopolitan Screen: German Cinema and the Global Imaginary, 1945 to the Present (2007); Caught by Politics: Hitler Exiles and American Visual Culture (2007); and Sound Matters: Essays on the Acoustics of German Culture (2004).
This event is presented by the Moving Images Research Group (MIRG), with funding from the Simpson Center for the Humanities.