Professor Francesco Casetti reads the screen in its diverse instantiations. “Screens not only display images; they define the modes of access to these images. In this, they are inherently political.”
On the mode of existence of Screen and Screenscapes
Through a reconsideration of some historical and contemporary screenic dispositives—from the Phantasmagoria to the most recent installations— the lecture will discuss what the screen is in its diverse instantiations. On the one hand, we can’t delineate a screen “as such,” as if it were a freestanding device existing independently of its context. A screen is a screen when is part of an assemblage of elements and operations that triggers its action and assigns its functions and tasks. On the other hand, a screen is also part of a physical milieu that it helps to delineate. Its presence transforms a territory into a dedicated space—into a screenscape. Finally, the very fact that the screen is a device which is “grounded” in a territory uncovers its most basic function: it is a tool for the distribution of sensible (Jacques Ranciére). Screens not only display images; they define the modes of access to these images. In this, they are inherently political.
Francesco Casetti is the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of Humanities and Film and Media Studies at Yale University. He is the author of six books and more than sixty essays, including Eye of the Century: Film, Experience, Modernity (Columbia University Press, 2005), and The Lumière Galaxy: Seven Key words for the Cinema to Come(Columbia University Press, 2015). His current research focuses on early film theory, especially the cinephobic stances in the first half of the 20th Century; and on a reconsideration of silver screen that underlines its environmental aspects and the ways in which it becomes a component of our current “mediascapes.”
For the Record
This event is part of For the Record, a research project by Het Nieuwe Instituut on contemporary video culture as a public space for consumerism, activism and emancipation. The project seeks to document and reflect upon the technologies, spatial design and forms of representation deployed in video culture and live events, and uses public programs and video production as the main research methodology.
The essay Screen Genealogies: From Optical Device to Environmental Media, by Craig Buckley, Rüdiger Campe and Francesco Casetti, was published as part of the For the Record webmagazine in response to Screen Spaces in New York City, 2018.
The Reading Room is a series of evenings dedicated to the act of collective reading. It is a place to decipher and interpret the world with its countless languages and systems, including phenomena that by their ubiquity evade investigation. Led by an artist, researcher or designer, a small audience will reflect upon a concept, a text, an object or an image. The Reading Room is a space for intimate, provocative conversations. It is a place for creative confusion and sometimes even frustration, in which speakers and audience are not looking for concrete solutions but for higher resolutions. Subjects in previous Reading Rooms include exhibition, surveillance, migration, liquidity, museum, insecurity.