[-empyre-] Youngmin and things at BIFF

Timothy Conway Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Fri Oct 11 01:44:22 EST 2013

Hi, everyone, we are so thankful to Youngmin Lee for having taken time out from his administrative responsibilities at the Busan International Film Festival to post to everyone from Busan.  While his interests in the visual theories of Lacan might be familiar to the majority of empyreans, I think it's important to appreciate Youngmin's efforts to translate Western theoretical thought into the Asian media discourse, which is extremely complicated and multilayed by cultural convergences.   I'm somewhat suprised not to have heard reservations about some of you regarding the relevance of Lacan's visual theories to the new media context -- not too late....

On the same panel today, for example, one Korean colleague translated the film, Avatar, as a Buddhist allegory while another addressed very similar visual conditions in a Russian sic-fi film in relation to the Foucauldian panopticon and procedures of subjugation (for which Avatar has faced severe criticism for what some understand as its endorsement of primitivism).

What's been interesting to me throughout the panels and screenings at Busan is how the overall Asian film community seems to be missing the opportunity to capitalize on the pluses of new media, from interactivity to networked relations to the exhibitional convergence of multiple screens and platforms [which is not dissimilar to what would be heard at Cannes, the Occidental equivalant of Busan].  While yesterday featured a panel on digital communication, this ended up being an endorsement of search engines and deep data for advertising and audience development --  a far cry from endorsing a convergence of cinematic and new media habits and techniques.  While it's understandable that a major film festival would promote conventional business models, it's disheartening that the Asian "independents" seem to work indifferently to so many of their Asian peers who lead the new media arts (and this in the land of Nam June Paik -- one of Paik's sculptures even graces the lobby of Seoul airport hotel where we slept off our first night of jet lag). 

Yet, Renate and I have enjoyed two films that seem to thrive on such convergences.  The Korean director Bong Joon-ho screened his extraordinary film, Snowpiercer, which tells an eerie and violent tale of social upheaval in the new postglobal warming ice age, as the survivors circle the globe in a hierarchically ordered train, with a marvelous performance by Tilda Swinton.  The marvel is how the film successfully cut between dazzling animated sequences of the train crashing through icebergs and the traditional analogue representation of the diegesis. We enjoyed the flipside of this tonight while watching Japanese director Akira Ikeda's Anatomy of a Paper Clip (a miminalist sado-masochistic portrayal of class abjection in which directing evoked a combination of realist miminalism and pared down animation).  While the film contained no animation until the credits, the actors every movements seemed to embody the craft of top-motion animation as nuanced in the digital scene.

Today we also enjoyed the dialogue between this week's guest, Youngmin Lee, and next week's featured guest, Alex Taek-Gwang Lee.  It'll be very interesting to hear how Alex weighs into the discussion.

Of course, we're very anxious to hear the thoughts of empyreans throughout the month.


Director, Society for the Humanities
Curator, Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
A. D. White House
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York. 14853
From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of Renate Ferro [rtf9 at cornell.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2013 1:40 AM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: [-empyre-] Fwd:  Welcome to the October Discussion:

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