By Asbjørn Grønstad on 04.07.2013 (07:00).
It's been almost two weeks since the 7th NECS conference (not counting the inaugural meeting in Berlin in 2006) wrapped up in Prague, but I've hardly found a spare moment since to mention it here. Which is in part due to having just moved with the family to the Bay Area for the summer, where I'm a visiting professor in the History Department. Anyway, the conference now has the feel of a firmly established event, mature beyond its actual years, and one couldn't help but be impressed at how smoothly it all went down. The topic in Prague was "Media Politics/Political Media," offering further evidence of the increasing re-engagement with the political that marks the current moment in academia and that at least to some extent has also made itself felt in several of the conferences that I have been to in the last 2-3 years. Panels were tellingly entitled "What's the Political in Political Film Aesthetics?, "The Politics of the Haptical," "New Political Landscapes in Contemporary Spanish Cinema," Marx and the Moving Image," and "The Politics of Images in Contemporary Turkey," to name a few. Obviously the theme of the conference itself encouraged this, but the orientation was still pretty palpable. A lingering impression is also that questions concerning the political often seem entwined with aesthetic issues - perhaps due to the influence of Jacques Rancière - as in Gertrud Koch's excellent Friday night keynote "Image Politics: The Monotheistic Prohibition of Images and Its Afterlife in Political Aesthetics." Our own panel Saturday morning was on "The Power of the Precarious Aesthetic" and featured some of the participants from the eponymous research project based at the University of Copenhagen, as well as insightful and useful comments by Antonio Somaini from University of Paris III. My own paper dealt with the notion of opacity and its various conceptual inflections in relation to Bill Morrison's found footage film Decasia. I won't even try to sum up all the stimulating panels, papers and workshops that I went to, but among the ones I found particularly intriguing were "The Metadata of Censorship" and "Film, Ethics and the Politics of Vulnerability."