Inside the ‘Open-Image’: Virtual Reality Cinema as a Medium of Ethical Experience

This podcast is of a seminar presented by Adam Daniel at WSU Parramatta for SSSN on 10th May 2017. Adam’s paper is followed by a response from Dr Robert Sinnerbrink, who also facilitated a question and answer section with the audience present on the day.

The primitive space of cinematic VR opens up vital questions regarding how much this new mode can draw from established cinematic paradigms, such as linear narrative progression, techniques of montage, and emotional engagement via identification with diegetic characters. However, early scholarship in the field of virtual reality has also seen a lack of political or ethical engagement as one of the key issues in the field. This paper seeks to examine VR’s potential as a medium of ethical experience. Drawing on Robert Sinnerbrink’s work on the cinema-ethics relationship, this paper also utilises the concept of Chaudhuri and Finn’s ‘open-image’ to expand ethical experience beyond an intellectual consideration of moral or ethical dilemmas, an extension which examines how images can affect us in a multimodal sense: cognitively, but also emotionally, corporeally, and sensorially.

Adam Daniel is the SSSN University Representative and a Ph.D. candidate at Western Sydney University.

Dr Robert Sinnerbrink is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Macquarie University, Sydney.

Nostalgia, Representation and Transgression in Disney Princess Culture

This podcast is of a seminar presented by Emily Chandler at UNSW Australia for SSSN on 5th April 2017. Emily’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Meg Russell and involving the audience present on the day.

Emily Chandler is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of the Arts and Media at the University of New South Wales. She works in the interdisciplinary fields of media studies and girlhood studies. She blogs at girlrepresentationinfilm.wordpress.com.

Between 1937 and 2016, Walt Disney Animation Studios released 56 animated theatrical films for children. Since 2000, the teenage and young adult female protagonists from 12 of these films have been retroactively grouped into a media franchise called the Disney Princesses. Academic study around the Disney Princesses mostly relates to the representation of female characters in Disney films and merchandise, and the franchise’s appropriateness for children. However, children are not the only demographic with an investment in this franchise. Adults online produce fan works, listicles, discussion, campaigns and humour featuring adoring, critical and satirical interpretations of the Disney Princesses. This paper examines current and ongoing shifts in media consumption patterns by providing a rationale for adults’ participation in a fandom for films aimed at children. Studying the interaction of 2010s Internet fan culture with the Disney animated output, I argue that the fan works, social justice campaigns and satire which have coalesced around this franchise can be attributed to a combination of their appeal to nostalgia, their use within identity politics, and their transgressive potential through satire.

The War Veteran as Conduit into the 1920s: Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014) and Peaky Blinders (2013-present)

This podcast is of a seminar presented by Dirk Gibb at UNSW Australia for SSSN on 17th May 2016. Dirk’s paper is followed by a question and answer section conducted by the audience present on the day. There are two sections of Q&A in this podcast; the first refers to Boardwalk Empire Season 2 Episode 5, which was screened immediately following Dirk’s paper; the second refers to Peaky Blinders Season 1 Episode 1.

Dirk Gibb (UoN) is in his final year of a Ph.D in Film, Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Newcastle. His project (which has a strong historical component) deals with the revival of the 1920s in twenty-first century popular culture. His argument is that this revival of a “protean” decade marks the site of a palimpsest in Western language film and television production, with traces of the present to be uncovered in such films as Midnight In Paris and The Great Gatsby, and such television programs as Boardwalk Empire, Downton Abbey and Underbelly: Razor.

The veteran of World War One is a character that frequently appears in the twenty-first century revival of the 1920s in popular culture. From Boardwalk Empire to Downton Abbey to The Great Gatsby, these veterans, whether major or minor players, serve as a reminder that the frenzied changes apparent in this “protean” decade were, in large
part, due to the carnage that marked the years 1914-18.

I argue further, however, that the veteran in these texts is a distanced proxy for audiences viewing the recreated 1920s. Through the subjective visual
techniques of dream/flashback, and exposition (mainly conveyed through dialogue), my presentation and screening will analyse the trend in these texts
for veterans to not only be “damaged” in some way, but even to embark on criminal civilian careers out of feelings of disillusionment with post-war
society (historical parallels have been traced by historians such as Peter Stanley). Boardwalk Empire’s second season episode, “Gimcrack and Bunkum”, emphasising the facially-scarred
ex-sniper Richard Harrow (Jack Huston), and Peaky Blinder’s pilot episode, concentrating on the shell-shocked ex-sapper Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), will illustrate the conceptions of the 1920s possible through using the demobilised veteran as conduit.

Queer Identities in Empire (2015-pres.)

This podcast is of a seminar presented by Ava Parsemain at UNSW Australia for SSSN on 19th April 2016. Ava’s paper is followed by a question and answer section conducted by the audience present on the day. The Q&A in this podcast refers to Empire Season 2 Episode 10, which was screened immediately following Ava’s paper.

Ava Parsemain (UNSW) teaches Media Studies in the School of the Arts and Media. Her doctoral thesis explored the educational dimension of television, using case studies of Australian series to understand how different programmes teach and how viewers learn. She is current working on a research project that investigates how contemporary American television educates about queer identities and related social issues such as discrimination, homophobia and transphobia. Her ongoing research interests include television, informal learning, media literacy, pedagogy, and the relationship between education and entertainment.

Entertainment television plays a crucial role in terms of visibility of non-heterosexual identities. Programmes like Ellen (1994-1998), Queer as Folk (2000-2005), The L Word (2004-2009) Glee (2009-2015) and Orange Is The New Black (2013-present) are culturally significant partly because they portray sexual identities previously underrepresented and resist stereotypes about LGBTI individuals. More recently, FOX’s hit musical soap-drama Empire (FOX, 2015-present) has been commended by critics and media monitoring organisations like GLAAD for its positive portrayals of lesbians, gays and bisexuals. This presentation will discuss Empire’s engagement with non-heterosexual sexualities and identities, mainly through the character of Jamal, a hip-hop artist who struggles with his sexuality and faces homophobia in his family and professional relationships. Although it sometimes appears to reinforce heteronormativity by heterosexualising the gay characters and by conveying anti-queer messages, Empire explores notions of identity and fluidity in a way that challenges social norms and conventions and essentially presents a progressive and positive image of queerness.

The Emerging Gap: From Student to Filmmaker

This podcast is of a roundtable discussion at UNSW Australia for SSSN on 5th April 2016. The panel specifically addressed the Metro Screen research paper, “Emerging Visions: Career Pathways in the Australian Screen Production Industry“, and, more broadly, they discussed the difficulties of bridging the gap between tertiary film education and the Australian film industry. The panel was chaired by Klara Bruveris, who was joined by Katie Amos, Noni Cowan, Pat McCoy, Jessie Hildebrand and Nicole Douglas, all of whom are graduates of UNSW’s Film Studies and Media and Communications programs and are current film industry professionals.

Mining mythology in 21st century Australia film: Red Dog (2011) and Japanese Story (2003)

This podcast is of a seminar presented by Ben Chapman at UNSW Australia for SSSN on 22nd March 2016. Ben’s paper is followed by a question and answer section conducted by the audience present on the day.

*Please note, during the seminar clips of films were played to support the discussion. These have been removed with respect to copyright.

Ben Chapman (WSU) has worked in Australian Politics for the past ten years. During this time he has also studied and researched the expression of Australian identity in film and what it can tell us about broader Australian society. He wrote an article on Australian filmic mining mythology in the March 2014 edition of Studies in Australasian Cinema and presented on the same topic at the recent Film and History Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference in Brisbane.