Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Framing Media #2: Katie Bird on the Labor and Art of Steadicam Operators

Today's episode features Katie Bird, an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas, El Paso, who researches technology and craft histories in Hollywood film production. We discuss her video essay, "Feeling and Thought as They Take Form: Early Steadicam, Labor, and Technology (1974-1985),” published in the Journal of Videographic Film & Moving Image Studies. Bird emphasizes the operator's role in this unique technology's early history in both major films like The Shining and Halloween, as well as demo reels, industrial works, and more. She emphasizes how the choices of the operators—both physically and affectively, often referring to their own work closer to dancing—ultimately shaped the images we saw and how we respond to them. Bird challenges viewers to see the craft as labor beyond just invisibility, appreciating the art of production at every step. 


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Framing Media #1: JD Schnepf on Drone Humanitiariansm

Today, The Cinephiliacs presents the first episode of a new podcast that will take over this feed: Framing Media. The podcast will highlight and discuss new and innovative research in the field of moving image and sound studies. The name comes from Martin Scorsese's famous phrase, "Cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out." We take this not just to be an issue of aesthetics, but technology, ideology, race, gender, and culture.

Episodes will focus on how media images—whether film, television, radio, new media, or beyond—are framed: the design and craft of what audiences see, the hidden stories of the labor and talent obscured outside it, and the histories of how frames are made, distributed, and exhibited. 

Coming every other week, host Peter Labuza sits down with a scholar to discuss their recent scholarly publication, introducing their work to a broader audience beyond those with access to paywall publications. Framing Media hopes to highlight new research that demonstrates the value of what media scholars bring to today's questions.

Today's episode features JD Scnepf, a scholar of American Studies in Political Culture and Theory at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. We discuss her article, "Flood from Above: Disaster Mediation and Drone Humanitarianism," published in Media+Environment. Schnepf looks at the culture of the drone in humanitarian disasters like hurricanes and floods, studying how the private digital media infrastructure reveals the privatization of American life. Moreover, she explores how seeing and studying how drones work in these environmental situations demonstrates how we are taught to see drones as "life giving" objects, and how that provides a new critique of their military uses.