Anachronism : a symposium

Queen Mary, University of London

19th of November 2016

Film and Drama Studio (Arts 2)

Anachronism is a one-day media archaeology symposium exploring the disruptive potential of moving-image media, technologies and theory ordinarily considered out of time, out-of-sync or out of harmony with the present.

The term anachronism often implies error, a cultural or representational mistake or inaccuracy. Yet it also evokes potential: anachronism brings normally divergent epochs or styles into unexpected, charged dialogue with one another. As Elizabeth Freeman writes in Time Binds (2010), anachronism has the power ‘to unsituate viewers from the present tense they think they know, and to illuminate or even prophetically ignite possible futures in light of powerful historical moments’. As a kind of Benjaminian dialectical image, anachronisms unravel dominant narratives of progress, instead revealing unexplored possibilities that failed to materialise, or unrealised futures that interrupt the historical present. Thus in Spectres of Marx (1993), Derrida writes about anachronism as a form of haunting, as the ‘non-contemporaneity of present time with itself’.

This symposium explores points of provocative convergence or antagonistic dissonance between typically distinct historical moments, addressing a variety of events, objects, and texts that resist chronology and disturb linear, teleological readings of media history. Drawing on recent work in media archaeology as well as debates in queer and feminist theory, it will bring together academics and practitioners across a range of disciplines and tackle an array of temporal anomalies, including but not limited to: anachronistic technologies (3D, video, Polaroid photography); anachronism and haunting; the arrière-garde; anachronism and embodiment; anachronism and performance (re-enactments, manifestos); and the use of anachronism in theory (Kittler, Zielinski, Derrida).

Organisers: Janet Harbord, Nick Jones, Ros Murray

Queen Mary University of London Department of Film Studies


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