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Art & Art History

Reflexivity and the Small Form: A Symposium

lexivity and the Small Form: A Symposium is being presented by The Department of Germanic Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is co-sponsored by Gallery 400. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP to Julia Koxholt at For more information

Thursday, November 08, 2012
Gallery 400 Lecture Room
400 South Peoria Street

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Small forms have been an integral part of film history since its beginnings. Over time, various small forms have provided fertile soil for exercising and condensing filmic thought: early cinema’s aesthetic of the view, experimental cinema, short films with an essayistic approach, ephemeral scientific genres, etc. Although these forms have remained in the shadows of the feature film format, film studies has recently begun to pay more attention to them. One might say that the small form has become more visible. Less subject to economic and narrative constraints than big budget productions, the small form allows for unconventional innovations and serves as a privileged site for personal observation and reflexivity. 

Reflexivity and the Small Form: A Symposium will focus on the latter: the relationship between reflexivity and the small form. Questions to be raised include: In what way has the small form generated specific gestures of filmic thinking? Which modes of reflexivity has the small form taken up from other art forms and media (the haiku, the aphorism, photography, the miniature)? Is there a political or ethical stance linked to the small form? How does the small form negotiate the dialectics of attention and distraction? These questions are particularly relevant now that YouTube and similar platforms, made possible by the ubiquity of digital cameras and DIY-editing software, have engendered a plethora of small forms on the web and led directors like Chris Marker or Romuald Karmakar to establish their own web-channels. Bringing together case studies from different contexts, this symposium proposes to consider (and reconsider) the historical and theoretical proximity between the small form and an aesthetic of reflexivity. 

Image: Kevin B. Lee, INTERFACE 2.0, 2012 (detail).


9:00 9:45: Coffee

9:45: Welcome 

10:00 11:45:

  • Moderator: Sara Hall (University of Illinois at Chicago)

    Commentator: Virginia Wright Wexman (University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • NEVERMIND: form follows feminisim 

    Jennifer Reeder (University of Illinois at Chicago) 
  • Deutschland, O Nein! Reflexivity and Form through 13 Short Films on the State of the Nation 

    John E. Davidson (Ohio State University)

2:00 3:45: 

  • Moderator: Dagmar C. G. Lorenz (University of Illinois at Chicago)

    Commentator: Steven Marsh (University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Fast+Free+Fun=Fulfilling?: Observations on Trends in Online Video-Form Film Studies 

    Kevin B. Lee (Video Essayist and Founding Editor, Fandor; Editor and Video Producer, Indiewire Press Play)
  • Count Down: from the urgency of compression to infinite expansion 

    Tom Gunning (University of Chicago) 

4:00 5:30: Keynote Address 

  • In and Beyond the Shot: Reflexivity and the Small Form 

    Volker Pantenburg (University of Illinois at Chicago/Bauhaus University Weimar)

PDF of program