Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 4:15pm - 6:00pm
Landis Cinema, Buck Hall - 219 N. 3rd St.
Prof. Jen Malkowski - Smith College

In the early years of theoretical work on the relationship between cinema and the digital, Lev Manovich predicted that “spatial montage” would become increasingly influential in cinema’s digital future. “An alternative to traditional cinematic temporal montage,” spatial montage displays multiple moving images on screen at once, granting the work’s maker new powers of artistic juxtaposition and its viewer access to a broader and more complex visual field. Commercial cinema has largely failed to fulfill Manovich’s prediction, but a different robust digital form embodies cinematic spatial montage, in miniature: the film GIF set, which circulates primarily via social media. These fan-made sets sample and condense feature films, representing them on users’ social media feeds through grids of animated GIFs that each silently replay short snippets of the chosen film. The resulting collages of looping moving images reframe existing films (from the classic to the contemporary) for a social media audience steeped in cultures of multitasking and of remediation. Prof. Malkowski argues that these digital paratexts prioritize collage aesthetics over thematic or narrative consistency with the original film, extracting the artistry of its cinematography and mise-en-scène to recombine with the spatial montage skills of the GIF set creator.

Jennifer Malkowski is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at Smith College. They are the author of Dying in Full Detail: Mortality and Digital Documentary (Duke University Press, 2017) and the co-editor of Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games (Indiana University Press, 2017). Their work has also been published in Cinema Journal, Jump Cut, Film Quarterly, and the edited collections Queers in American Popular CultureUnwatchable, and A Tumblr Book: Platforms and Culture (forthcoming).

Sponsored by: 
Film & Media Studies

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Prof. Katherine Groo