Joachim Paech: Do things have an outline?

The author discusses the relationship between thing, form and medium. The starting point of the study is the idea that things are made conscious through their forms as media, which is supported by a short story by Robbe-Grillet, while Godard’s Passion is used to exemplify the way forms are influenced by the change of their medial context. Turning to Rodin, Rilke, Lukács, and Popper in the second part of the argument, the author revises the discourse about the extent to which form is defined by the materiality of things, and the way form is suggestive of the material prerequisites of things. Finally, Joris Ivens’ example is used to illustrate the latter idea regarding film.

Roy Sommer: ‘Metadesign’. A ‘Mythological’ Approach to Self-Reference in Consumer Culture

Although the emerging field of metareference studies has – with a few notable exceptions – so far been mainly concerned with literature, film, cartoons and games, metareference is not restricted to fictional representations in verbal and audiovisual narratives but has become a recurrent feature of consumer culture as well. Using musical instruments, fashion and cars as my examples, I demonstrate how product design and advertising exploit the commercial appeal of metareferential objects and their representations in the media. I argue that such a ‘metareferential’ approach to consumer culture offers a new perspective on the concept of ‘myth’ and the ‘mythological’ method originally proposed by Roland Barthes and thus provides a key to the study of contemporary culture.

György Kalmár: The scarred signifier. Halloween and the boundaries of filmic meaning

The article offers a reading of John Carpenter Halloween (1978) from the point of view of the forms and productive impossibilities of filmic meaning. Horror movies provide a particularly fruitful terrain for such an investigation, since their aesthetic design, characteristic technical logic and the psychological processes they trigger usually aim at obstructing the possibility of viewer positions capable of creating complete, totalitarian meaning. Contextualizing the film with the help of theories by Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Kaja Silverman, Steven Shaviro and Todd McGowan, the author attempts to analyze filmic methods that, from time to time, paralyze the semiotic production of meaning, and re-write some major ideas of film theory regarding the relationship between meaning and visuality. The term punctum used by Barthes, McGowan’s theory on crossover films, Lacan’s notion of sinthome, Silverman’s post-Lacanian ideas on the gaze and the space of the viewer, as well as Shaviro’s provocative conclusions about the affective role of film are all helpful in proving that a movie is frequently at its best precisely in moments when it lacks any meaning.

Tamás Csönge: Narratives of madness and spaces of fantasy in Terry Gilliam’s movies. Trauma, power and self-reflexion in the Twelve Monkeys

The essay examines Terry Gilliam’s film, the Twelve Monkeys (1995) whose remarkable feature is to transcend the usual questionings of a typical genre movie, while it still functions as an engaging action-thriller. Through the analysis of the story regarding the oeuvre of the director, new layers of meanings emerge, adding dynamically questioning the traditional, plot-centered, referential reading of the film. The argumentation focuses on the constructed nature of real and fantasy spaces and the relation between them. This involves the interpretation of the framing scene (the death of the hero) as a traumatic event, which is combined with the questioning of connection between subject theory and the structural phenomenon of narrative repetition. In its conclusion the essay links these narrative elements with the intertextual references to the works of Hitchcock found in Twelve Monkeys and other Gilliam films (especially Brazil and Time Bandits).

Gábor Gelencsér: Tradition, memory and crisis. Modernism and literature in Hungarian cinema of the sixties

The conceptual and formal novelties of the Hungarian new wave are related, on the one hand, to modern works stressing the politics of authorship, while on the other hand to the early stages of the careers of young directors. Consequently, the attitude towards adaptation shows a significant generational shift in the cinema of the sixties. While the majority of the members of the new wave based their films on their own scripts, members of the middle generation remained to make adaptations. Thus, adaptations have a significant role in the sixties regarding the history of cinematic form. Literature is given a particular focus in the confessional films depicting the social atmosphere through an existential crisis. At the same time, thematic motifs are combined with a formal language that is significant from the point of view of modernist style, namely, the disintegration of time, opposing past and present, and/or a subjective narration.

The analysis, dealing with the history of cinematic form regarding the relationship between film and literature, mentions the following films: Oldás és kötés [Unbinding and binding], Az orvos halála [The doctor’s death], Szentjános fejevétele [St. John’s beheading], Sikátor [Deadlock], Harlekin és szerelmese [Harlequin and his lover], Szevasz, Vera! [Hello, Vera], Hogy állunk, fiatalember?[How’s things, young man], Próféta voltál szívem [You were a prophet, my dear].

Czifra Réka: A Nárcisz és Psyché (poszt)modern szerialitása. A szeriális forma jelentősége Bódy Gábor elméletírói és filmkészítői munkásságában

My study examines the significance of seriality in Gábor Bódy’s oeuvre as a theorist and filmmaker through a close reading of his theoretical works and his film Narcissus and Psyche. As Bódy’s commitment to the serial form is closely related both to his personal interest in linguistics and the general influence of a structuralist-serialist approach in art, the study also outlines seriality’s linguistic origins and its realization in the sister arts. Seriality, which is based on the repetition and interrelation of specific formal elements, bears special significance in Bódy’s theory, as he considers it the ultimate means of film as a semiotic system to create objective, abstract, linguistic meaning. Furthermore, the serial form can also express the inherent duality of Bódy’s thought and work, which becomes evident from the particular serial structure of Narcissus and Psyche. In my opinion the film simultaneously demonstrates the modern and the postmodern use of seriality: the former can be seen in the attempt to create order and conceptual synthesis, while the latter emphasizes the plurality and parallelism of meanings and interpretations.

Theory and pedagogy of visual culture

Interview with W. J. T. Mitchell

Interview with David N. Rodowick

Interview with Michael Ann Holly

Interview with Martin Jay

Interview with Thomas Gunning

Interview with Anne Friedberg

Interview with Nicholas Mirzoeff