|TransFormations is a year-long series of events formed around four specific topics, each at the crossroads of four larger umbrella themes: art, technology, cognition and perception. In Fiction Science, writers, artists, scientists, directors, special-effects artists and cognitive scientists will come together to map out the territories between fiction and science and reality and fantasy, asking whether fictional worlds, hoaxes, satire and alternate histories can sometimes seem to be more "true-to-life" than reality itself.|
One of the side effects of the ever-increasing rate of technological change is our entrance into a world in which any line drawn between science fiction and scientific fact is contingent, contested and arguable. Simultaneously, the unprecedented absurdity of late-capitalist marketing techniques, centralized ownership of media, corporate corruption and proto-fascist politics has led to a situation in which satire, hoaxes, fictional worlds and alternate histories are more "true-to-life" than reality itself. We can no longer expect our experts and pundits to tell us the truth, because they are primarily engaged in the business of "perception management." Instead, we might do better to listen to comedians, filmmakers, artists, hoaxers and fiction writers. Paradoxically, those who make no claims at all to "truth" are nearly always the only ones with nothing at stake in systematically distorting it.
Just as science fiction created a realm in which conceptions of the future could be considered apart from the realities of the present, we need a realm distinct from our increasingly out-of-balance reality if we are to perceive even a faint glimmer of a better world: whether wiser, more equitable, more sustainable, more harmonious, more pleasurable or simply more fun. We are living in what was once "the future," and the interplay between science fiction and fact is such that neither can remain distinct from the other.
One arena in which the boundaries between the realistic and fantastic are constantly being renegotiated is the cinema. Built into the very syntax of film are specific distortions of temporality, space, causality and linearity that defy the "laws" of physics. Now, with the development of techniques that seamlessly integrate computer-generated components and camera-captured imagery, the apparatus of the film industry has been completely transformed. "Special effects" are no longer particularly special. Simultaneously, the mechanisms of cinema spectatorship have undergone a radical, if largely unnoticed, shift: The world on screen, while coyly maintaining its claim of at least some correspondence to reality, has left the real world far behind. In some sense, every film is now science fiction--laws of physics, biology, psychology and logic are routinely violated, not just in terms of montage and narrative flow, but in the very mise-en-scene itself.
It is possible to elucidate the physical logic of these worlds as a critical problem? The virtualization of science in cinema extends into the disciplines of physics, biology, epidemiology, artificial intelligence and simulation in ways that pose important questions.
Organized by cinematic arts faculty members Perry Hoberman, Steve Anderson, Anne Balsamo, Anne Friedberg, Richard Weinberg and Michael Naimark; Alice Gambrell (English); Douglas Thomas (communication); and Holly Willis (fine arts).
Official Website: http://iml.usc.edu/transformations3/
Added by kiracle on February 27, 2007