Research Focus: Projection, Reflection, and Experience
During the winter semester 2021/22, we want to take up our discussions on fictional worlds by scrutinizing the notion of projection in detail. Taken from Stanley Cavell, the term comprises more than just the technology for projecting flickering images on a screen or a mere technique of representation. Rather, cinematic images project a world that relates to the embodied pleasure of spectators, even though (or precisely because) they are excluded from this world, even though it remains sealed for them. In this paradoxical blending of presence and absence, activity and passivity, the projected world appears as independent from us, yet it is only realized within us, within the poiesis of film-viewing (as “a world viewed”). The product of this poiesis is the aesthetic and historical dimension of experience as a reflection of the unity of the processes of our perception and our hermeneutical, socio-culturally situated projections. We seek to analyze how these multiple levels of projection – as projected image and screening duration, as social practice and conceptualized world, and as a space of possibility for wishes and desires, i.e. as a speculative perspective of another subjectivity – are nested within one another.
Following up on the research of our colleague Eileen Rositzka, who passed away in May 2021, we furthermore want to pursue questions of how to grasp this nesting with regard to film and cartography – an experimental array that perhaps begins with the fact that you are also never exactly where you are when looking at a map. Maps as well as cinematic images project spaces onto two-dimensional images, just as map-readers and spectators project these back into spaces. Cinematic world projections and cartographic projections operate by means of specific processes of scaling: instead of reproducing, they condense and distort. This is precisely why they are experiential and reflexive forms of an embodied navigation of/through our shared reality. As such, they may illuminate each other – and thus the notion of projection itself. A map (and its mapping) is, for example, always also subject to questions of knowledge and power (the most prominent example perhaps being the geopolitical, deeply rooted bias of the Mercator projection). It relies on tangible bodies that (do not) know what to do with it, while occasionally being projections of operations of visualization themselves. In this sense, they do not only have a territorial, but also a temporal dimension: just like cinematic worlds, cartographies are drafts of past and future times in their own regard, in and through which reflections of our pre-sent day become observable. Their projections may highlight the confines of a sense of commonality, as well as experiences of difference concerning hegemonial modes of perception and cognition.
Accordingly, every projection is a counter-draft, a virtual rejection of a self-identical current state, bearing in itself the potential for its own counter-projection: utopia and dystopia, hegemony and resistance. At the same time, the multiple layers of a notion of projection not exclusively understood in a technological sense, as well as the relation between cinematic and cartographic projections invoke questions of media convergence and divergence. If the former points to an ongoing reflection of a preceding audiovisuality, the latter poses the question of a ram-ifying plurality of projections. This intersection of historicity and mediality, which also concerns the relation of self and community, delineates the possibility and the purpose of defining various media practices of the poiesis of film-viewing as the principle of a genuine audiovisual culture. Our research in the summer semester 2022 will focus on this definition and, concomitantly, on the development of a notion of such a culture.