News & Events

Thought-Provoking Meeting of January 30

SMRN held another thought provoking meeting on January 30 with members that included: Walid El Khachab, Mansoor Behnam, Steven Baris, Roger Malina, Nezih Erdoğan, Katya Nosyreva, Çigdem Borucu, Ali Taheri, Nina Czegledy, Mriganka Madhukaillya, Azadeh Emadi, Tarek El-Ariss, Azadeh Emadi, Jan Hendrickse, Juan Castrillón, Farshid Kazemi, Radek Przedpełski and Laura Marks.

Our members Walid El Khachab and Juan Castrillón presented their work in progress. Walid presented his work titled ‘Sufi origins of Visual Media’, a very thought-provoking reimagining of the origins of visual media through Sufi concepts and literature. According to Walid, One may imagine a virtual genealogy of visual media susceptible of un-thinking media theory’s Euro-centrism -to quote Ella Shohat and Robert Stam- by “translating” Sufi motifs and concepts into the realm of contemporary visual media. “Proto-photographic or proto-cinematic” motifs such as the curtain and the mirror as screens, or the shadow as a virtual body, can be reimagined as archetypes pre-figuring the screen and the virtual image in contemporary screen studies and media based artistic practices. Walid envisaged the interface between the body of the “consumer”, and the screen as a diffuse “ecstatic” and pantheistic practice, where body and screen create what Deleuze would call an assemblage. They would form a virtual continuum akin to the one resulting from the Sufi’s experience of the oneness of being, when their body-soul is dissolved in the One-World. Finally, Walid also attended to the erotic possibilities of this interface, because it is tactile (through the screen’s mediation) and because it is comparable to Bettelheim’s understanding of orgasm: a brief moment when oneself ceases to be and unties with the body of another, here the skin-body of the screen.

Our next presenter Juan Castrillón presented a brilliant short film in progress called: VISITORS. The film fascinatingly experiments with various modes of acknowledging blackness, the qualities it reveals, and the commonalities it opens. This short film renders events from Juan’s research among the Cubeo people of the Northwest Amazon happening at a time that he cannot fully perceive, such as the sonic appearance of beings at night, and the resonance of a sacred pond. Rather than revealing what these beings are or what this pond signifies, the film exposes the (dis)abilities he found filming in low light and the poetic commonalities between noise, blackness and darkness in and beyond the temporality of media. By setting these commonalities in motion in a 12-minute video, Juan unfolded “the rolling and unrolling of Almighty wings,” as W. E. B. Du Bois says in his poem, rendering multiple visitors in their diffuse shapes, dim light, ephemeral temporalities and deep resonance.