13 April 2017 – Minghella Studios, University of Reading

Part of the AHRC-FAPESP funded project ‘Towards an Intermedial History of Brazilian Cinema: Exploring Intermediality as a Historiographic Method’

Featuring a keynote address by CFAC Member Professor Ágnes Pethő titled, ‘Understanding Intermediality in Contemporary Cinema: Changing Shapes of In-Betweenness’. The presentation will address some key issues in theorising intermediality in the age of digital cinema. The figuration of the tableau (vivant) will be singled out as a par excellence intermedial phenomenon that condenses changing models of cinematic intermediality throughout the history of film. As a rule, this is a type of image that flaunts the inter-art relations of film, being, as many theorists have noted, a veritable battlefield of media. In the digital age, however, in which the cinematic medium itself merges with photography and painting, the photo-pictorial images blurring the distinction between tableau vivant proper and the tableau shot effectively challenge the core tenets of the concept of intermediality. I propose therefore to sketch some of the major differences between the modernist model of intermediality and the re-conceptualization of “in-betweenness” in contemporary cinema shaped by the affordances of new technologies and convergence of dispositifs. In terms of theorising this also means the necessity of considering not only the phenomenology but also some aspects of a possible post-phenomenology of the intermedial image. In films based on the aesthetic of the tableau, images are no longer “shot” but “moulded” into a virtual container of colours, shapes, bodies and sounds displayed through the conspicuous mediation of photofilmic technologies. And as the tableau vivant implodes into the ubiquitous, intermedialized tableau shot, the traditional relationships between image and narrative, stillness and movement, flatness and plasticity, abstraction and raw corporeality, high art and popular culture embodied in the tableau are reconfigured along with the emerging new folds between cinema, photography, painting, sculpture, architecture, and installation art. Through the analysis of examples gleaned from so called “small”, “peripheral” cinemas, yet viewed in the context of a globalised culture, my aim will be to map some of the recent strategies in deploying such (post-cinematic) tableaux. I will also emphasize the performativity of these images manifest in conflicting acts of connection to and disconnection from a historically localizable profilmic reality, in a rigorous control over detail and adherence to structure, only to be undermined by themes of violence, trauma, vulnerability, and transience.

Ágnes Pethő is Professor at the Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania in Cluj-Napoca (Romania) where she is currently head of the Department of Film, Photography, and Media as well as the executive editor of the journal, Acta Universitatis Sapientiae: Film and Media Studies. She is the author of Cinema and Intermediality. The Passion for the In-Between (2011), the editor of the volumes:Words and Images on the Screen (2008), Film in the Post-Media Age (2012), The Cinema of Sensations(2015). She has also published several essays about the relationship of painting, photography and film, and the aesthetic of the tableau vivant in cinema.