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English PGR Seminar Series: Esther Leslie – Thursday 9 February 2017

9th February 2017 @ 5:15 pm - 7:15 pm

You are warmly invited to the English Postgraduate Research Seminar with Professor Esther Leslie. The event takes place Thursday 9th February at 5.15 in the Lock Keeper’s Cottage, Mile End campus. All are welcome.


Esther Leslie is Professor in Political Aesthetics and Acting Co-Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities. Her research interests include Marxist theories of aesthetics and culture, with a particular focus on Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. Other research interests include the poetics of science, European literary and visual modernism and avant gardes, animation, colour and madness. Her books include Walter Benjamin: Overpowering Conformism (2000), Hollywood Flatlands, Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant Garde (2002), Derelicts: Thought Worms from the Wreckage (2014) and Liquid Crystals The Science and Art of a Fluid Form (2016). Her translations include Georg Lukacs, A Defence of ‘History and Class Consciousness’ (2002) and Radio Benjamin (2014). She edits three journals: Historical Materialism, Radical Philosophy and Revolutionary History.


Next week’s paper:

‘Animating Clouds’

This essay considers the cloud and animation from a variety of stances. It suggests first that clouds have always been animate forms, shifting, evanescent and in some regards abstract. They have also long been a stuff for imagery, especially painting and it is argued the materiality of the clouds is repeated in its painted form. The drama of clouds in a more modern age was seized by film and animation. The cloud appears in the digital age too – in more ways than one. Clouds have been constituted digitally by commercial studios and also by art animators. For the collective FriendsWithYou, the clouds, from their animation Cloudy and its various offshoots, are central to their ultrahappy pneumatic aesthetic. This body of work, kitsch and dumb as it is, will be treated as emblematic of an age in which the cloud looms  as a new substance, if one that is hard to grasp and hard to model convincingly. What is a digital cloud? In what ways is it captured in the platform that is called The Cloud? Computer animation has a specific visual appeal that is shiny and hermetic. This quality is easily fetishable, presents, indeed, an object lesson in what a fetish is. As if in recognition of it some recent animations have mobilised the fetish quality critically. Does the shiny aesthetic of the digital transform into the fluffiness of the cloud or is there something different at work in the digitalising of clouds and the creation of a synthetic heaven into which all production has been relocated?


9th February 2017
5:15 pm - 7:15 pm
Event Categories:


English PGRS


Lock-Keeper’s Cottage
Queen Mary University of London
Mile End Road, E1 4NS
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