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Weihong Bao: Archaeology of a Medium, the Agri(cultural) Techniques of a Paddy Film Farm

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, November 17, 2021. 12:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Humanities Center Boardroom and Zoom
Workshop: 
Decolonizing Archives, Rethinking Historical Methods
Meeting Description: 

This talk explores the question of the archive through the under-explored territory of media archaeology as an artistic and social project. This is a case in contemporary documentary film practice that combines critical writings, aesthetic experiments, and alternative modes of the exhibition in a way that blurs the boundary between media archaeology as a scholarly critical inquiry and media archeology as artistic creative intervention. The point of entry is contemporary documentary filmmaker Mao Chenyu, who is also an organic farmer, a critical thinker and writer, and a film exhibitor. Mao provides an intriguing case of how ethnography, ecology, and cosmology intertwine; how media art can take the form of media activism by redefining its boundaries and exhibition space; and how media art can be rethought by replacing its usual focus on media as an object with a focus on media as space, community, and social process. Media archaeology in Mao’s case suggests a particularly reflexive archaeology of the medium in relation to history, religion, nature, and locality, mobilized by his inquiry of shamanism as bodily and mental/spiritual techniques and as social practice. Through a double reflection on media archaeology as artistic practice and as disciplinary method, this talk reflects on new possibilities to decolonialize the archive and reconstruct forgotten, absent, and fragmented history.

This event will be held in a hybrid format. RSVP is required. >>


About the Speaker

Weihong Bao is an associate professor of film and media, and East Asian languages and cultures at UC Berkeley. She has published widely on comparative media history and theory, early cinema, war, and modernity, affect theory, propaganda theory and practice, and Chinese language cinema of all periods and regions. Her book Fiery Films: The Emergence of an Affective Medium in China, 1915-1945 (University of Minnesota Press, 2015) received an honorable mention for the Modernist Studies Association Best Book Prize in 2016. She is currently working on a new book, Background Matters: The Art of Environment in Modern China, as well as two special issues on "Medium/Environment" (Critical Inquiry) and "Climate/Media" (Representations). She is the editor-in-chief for The Journal of Chinese Cinemas and co-edits the “film theory in media history” book series published by Amsterdam University Press. 

About the Respondent

Jean Ma is an associate professor in the Department of Art & Art History, area director of film and media studies, and the director of Stanford Arts Institute. She is the author of Melancholy Drift: Marking Time in Chinese Cinema (Hong Kong University Press, 2010), and co-editor of Still Moving: Between Cinema and Photography (Duke University Press, 2008) and “Sound and Music,” a special issue of the Journal of Chinese Cinemas.

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