[-empyre-] Convergence cultures

ldp3 lisa.patti at cornell.edu
Mon Oct 28 02:22:52 EST 2013

Dear colleagues,

I have very much enjoyed reading the discussion of convergence that has unfolded over the past few weeks.  My current book project -- Mobile-Lingualism: New Media, Contemporary Cinephilia, and Translation -- examines the distribution of multilingual cinema and television across new media platforms.  My research for this project focuses in part on the ways that "convergence culture" has transformed practices of film distribution and reception.  I combine an analysis of the formal transformations of the cinematic image in new screen configurations with an analysis of the industrial context of those configurations. In other words, I spend a lot of time reviewing the contracts between large online distributors like Hulu (with branches in the US and Japan) and their content providers (studios, networks, and various other media conglomerates.) 

I am often struck by the ways that convergence culture (as it is understood by media industries and by the academic field of media studies) refers to the innovations and interactions between corporations and audiences (but not artists).  "Convergence culture" refers to the circulation of media objects across multiple technological platforms and the mobility and interactivity of audiences as they engage with those platforms.  Artists (directors, writers, performers, etc.) often have contractual obligations to produce content for the new transmedia extensions of their work (one of the focal points of the 2007 WGA strike), but their participation is often eclipsed in discourses of convergence that focus instead on corporate collaborations or on fan authorship. 

I am wondering how to reconcile this version of convergence with the versions that have surfaced so far in this discussion.  Ken Feingold's description of the "convergence of processes" in his recent work, Gabriel Menotti's recent exchange with Renate about mobile technologies as convergence, and Tim's opening observations about "artistic convergences" place the artist at the center of convergence (or at the very least as a dynamic participant).  I wonder to what extent these different versions of convergence simply signal different spheres of production and reception or to what extent there may be important connections among them.  



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