Sean Cubitt

Sean Cubitt
University of Melbourne | MSD · School of Culture and Communication

About

189
Publications
34,634
Reads
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865
Citations
Citations since 2016
36 Research Items
516 Citations
2016201720182019202020212022020406080
2016201720182019202020212022020406080
2016201720182019202020212022020406080
2016201720182019202020212022020406080
Introduction
Additional affiliations
January 2020 - present
University of Melbourne
Position
  • Professor
April 2012 - December 2019
Goldsmiths, University of London
Position
  • Professor
March 2006 - February 2011
University of Melbourne
Position
  • Professor of Media and Communications

Publications

Publications (189)
Presentation
Full-text available
Artificial intelligence of Common Intellect?: notes for a conversation between technolgy, ecology and sociology
Book
Full-text available
Introduction pre-proof from the book: Ecocritique is a practice of radical questioning, as essential to the critical armoury as feminism and postcolonialism have become, and like them extends beyond judgements about texts with clear ecological themes. Anecdotal method is ecocritical because it focuses on encounters, concentrated moments of crisis w...
Article
https://mediaenviron.org/ Launch issue of the new Open Access journal Media + Environment, edited by Alenda Chang, Adrian Ivakhiv and Janet Walker with contributions by Jennifer Gabrys, Nicole Starosielski, Toby Miller, Sheldon Lu and, among others, my short piece on Ecocritique
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Ecocritique accepts, as it must, that humans and environments have been ripped apart historically, sociologically and aesthetically. But it also recognises that because we have become strangers, dialogue between humans and environments is possible as it could not be if we were all one universal flux. Because of our mutual alienation, there are endl...
Article
The term ‘transnational’ can be read in two simultaneous dimensions: as an ontological description of a primordially queer birthing (trans+natio) and as a trajectory of practice engaging with the historical actuality of borders. Ecocritique is centrally transnational in both senses, and ecomedia are privileged vehicles for conflictual practices of...
Chapter
Full-text available
The chapter provides a conversation between the three authors in which a number of Burgin's site-specific installations frame a consideration of the status and future of the camera from photography to moving image to computer-generated virtual works. In the process Burgin modifies Bazin's question 'What is cinema?' to ask 'What is a camera?'. The C...
Article
In the fields of literature and the visual arts, 'zero degree' represents a neutral aesthetic situated in response to, and outside of, the dominant cultural order. Taking Roland Barthes' 1953 book Writing Degree Zero as just one starting point, but with reference to broader historical discourse that picks up on critical notions of 'zero', 'zero deg...
Preprint
Unpublished Dreaft of paper submitted to launch issue of Media+Environment (https://mediaenviron.org/)
Preprint
25 years ago Val Plumwood argued that our increasing economic, political and environmental degradation of the planet is the root of all human inequality and injustice. Struggles to balance the demands of feeding the world and maintaining its health while preserving its oceans and its cultural heritage make it clear that environmental ethics and str...
Chapter
Full-text available
Films, and perhaps especially animated films, are ways of thinking. In their own ways, and beyond any intention of human filmmakers, films think. Animations think especially hard about movement, time and, unsurprisingly, animation: what motivates something to move. In their remarkably different ways, Muto (2007–2008) and Der Lauf der Dinge (1987) u...
Chapter
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The ancestral spirits are harsh: were they not men? (Pound 1954: 120). I take as my motto this phrase from the Confucian Odes, the book of folk songs collected by the great sage as a guide to rulers. Kung Fu-tse admonished the worthy man to pay attention to the songs of the poor as a window into their worlds, which the wise do well to take to heart...
Article
This Roundtable began life as a public event on the subject of liquid crystals in our visual, material, media, scientific and artistic cultures. The event’s premise was that liquid crystals are the ur-form that constitute and govern Modernity and its after-shocks. For sure this is because the dialectic of liquidity and crystallization, of flow and...
Article
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The first task is to describe if not define ethics: in the film context a quality of the unique instance (where politics might instead be about the consequences for all or for a majority or a group). Documentary for example has a duty to the unique events and subjects it pictures. The question then might be phrased: what is unique in animation? Thi...
Article
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pre-press text
Article
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The question of uncertainty raised in this special issue raises issues for the image as truthful, the truth that viewers can claim to find in images and the ethical dimensions of truth. By tracing some key changes in the history of photography, this paper demonstrates that the mass production and especially mass storage and distribution of images c...
Article
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Glitches, formally artifacts of errors in electronic transmission like CD stutters or dead pixels, interrupt communication and distract audiences without wrecking the systems they occur in. Permanent irritants, they operate as irruptions of difference into the indifferent flux of commodity exchange. They reveal the exclusions, notably of noise, tha...
Article
NB: This paper is from a great special issue of the open access journal Ctrl-Z edited by Robert Briggs, all papers including this one dowloadable from http://www.ctrl-z.net.au/journal/ issue 7 Working on the same principles as the phonograph, but reading tremblings of the ground rather than of the air, scratching out in real time invisible actions...
Article
Large public screens have now become a ubiquitous part of the contemporary cityscape. Far from being simply oversized televisions, the media experts contributing to Ambient Screens and Transnational Public Spaces put forward a strong case that such screens could serve as important sites for cultural exchange. Advances in digital technology spell th...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter, the question concerning the identity of the aesthetic as rooted in the present moment of aesthetic experience, must be formulated in a way that allows for the co-presence of not only artwork and audience but also the social that forms both of them. The chapter incorporates history in the aesthetic encounter. The authors are also gi...
Article
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Irrevocably historical, landscape is already denatured before it is represented, a repository of history which becomes, in representation, a record of history’s erasure under the banner of natural beauty. Questioning key aesthetic concepts of human freedom and the autonomy of art in dialogue with Theodor Adorno and James Benning, this essay argues...
Data
This is a mobility program, enabling students to study across Europe. During the two-year programme, each student will spend three semesters at at least three universities, and choose among the four in the final semester. After completing the programme, students will receive a joint master degree from the universities they have attended. Up to 13 o...
Chapter
Full-text available
Contemporary digital formalism emerges in the concept of ‘beautiful data’ (Halpern 2015), the visualization of information in intrinsically pleasing patterns which may or may not also provide useful ways of using the data. Data visualization is now both big business and a ubiquitous feature of digital arts and the aesthetic of the ‘postdigital’. It...
Article
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This article considers the ending of the short Canadian animation, Ryan (2004) by Chris Landreth. It addresses the role of continuity editing in vector graphics to argue that the film exhibits, despite its fantastic surface, a paradoxical form of realism.
Article
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This essay deals with technologies, techniques, business models and legal structures governing telecommunications infrastructures. Megacities are especially vulnerable to shifting agencies in telecoms provision. This paper addresses the relation of the economics of growth, built-in obsolescence and product life cycles with the complex determination...
Article
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Ecocritical work on media has developed from a genre criticism of nature-themed films to address cinema, TV, and media arts more broadly as articulations of the human-natural relation and its mediation through technologies. Embracing the environmental impacts of product life cycles, from materials extraction and industrial production to energy use...
Article
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It is not only the physical digital media that pile waste upon waste in an era of built-in obsolescence driven by over-production attempting to balance the falling rate of profit. Energy used in the manufacture, employment and recycling of devices belongs to a system where waste is not merely accidental but integral to the operation of cognitive ca...
Article
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Studies of environmentalism in media and cultural studies have largely focused on the communication of political strategies and scientific truths, on representation, and on genre and thematic criticism. This article looks at current work on the environmental impacts of digital media and argues that this gives a new perspective on political economy...
Book
Full-text available
This is the pre-press Preface to the book Practice of Light
Article
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Using a number of his recent site-specific installations, conceptual artist and theorist Victor Burgin discusses the status and future of the camera from photography to moving image to computer-generated virtual works that combine both still and moving images. In the process he modifies Bazin's question 'What is cinema?' to ask 'What is a camera?'...
Article
Full-text available
This paper argues that cultural analyses of electric light, including aspects of actor-network theory, may raise the spectre of complexity, but do not do it justice when they omit to provide analysis of the intertwined roles of culture and political economy in the formation of the provision and use of electric light. The essay looks at the marketiz...
Article
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In both electronic scanning and film projection the image must disappear for fragments of every second. Where perspective rests on a vanishing point, projection relies on a vanishing instant, the sudden plunge into imperceptible darkness. This article traces the art history of the vanishing of the image in the history of shadow. For Plato, who want...
Article
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La réalité est autre chose. – (Au hasard Balthazar)
Article
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The transition from analogue to digital photography was not accomplished in a single step. It required a number of feeder technologies which enabled and structured the nature of digital photography. Among those traced in this article, the most important is the genesis of the raster grid, which is now hard-wired into the design of the most widely em...
Article
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Compositing multiple plates into a single image creates challenges for lighting, grading and editing, while the distinct methods of each produces aesthetic challenges in creating apparently coherent space. The challenge is all the greater because digital screens and projectors afford only a strictly limited form of display, and the codecs associate...
Book
A history and analysis of the first years of video art in England and Scotland based on extensive archiving and oral history, this book restores a lost period in British art history with a claim to being the only true avant-garde of the British art scene. Including artists and critics active at the time as well as younger svcholars, the anthology o...
Article
Drawing on discussions at a symposium held in Melbourne in 2011, this article describes the reactions of artists, curators and software engineers to the varied transitions between analogue and digital media. The authors argue that both the 'post-medium condition' mooted by Krauss and the 'Death of Cinema' theses of film scholars like Rodowick and M...
Article
Full-text available
The architecture of screen design, including LCD, LED and DLP projection, is analysed in terms of the political economy and their aesthetics and phenomenological impacts, in association with the use of codecs as constraining as well as enabling tools in the control and management of visual data transmission.
Conference Paper
Arguments for the 'Death of Cinema" hold that film's realist destiny has been betrayed by digital technologies. Arguments for the 'Post medium Condition' hold, against the medium-specificity of Greenberg and after de Duve's art made of 'n'importe quoi', that medium no longer matters. In papers on colour separation and management, the temporalities...
Chapter
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Virilio's critique of accident and disappearance might recall Adorno’s praise of disappointment, and perhaps also signal the danger attendant on construing the future not as risk management but as unknowable other. In other words, Virilio points us towards an aesthetics of failure: of the inherent risk that any object – and phenomenologically there...
Article
How can we describe a moving image, composed of thousands of successive images, as “an” image? I want to explore the possibility that the coherence of the image is premised on latency. A latent image is one which is captured in photographic film prior to development. It is by nature invisible. Similarly invisible latent states structure lenses, ape...
Chapter
The process of imaging or imagining, of sounding the world in an age of digital globalisation is by definition an unfinished project. It embraces various modes and experiences of the global: as triumph of corporate technologies, as diasporan cultural exchage, as the isolation but also the solidarity and ultimately the freedom of migrants. Elsewhere...
Article
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Despite the language of immateriality and weightlessness, network communications have a significant materiality and weight when considered from the standpoint of production, consumption and recycling. In this paper, we concentrate on the energy signatures of the server industry on which internet communications depend, with special consideration of...
Book
Full-text available
We are surrounded by images as never before: on Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube; on thousands of television channels; in digital games and virtual worlds; in media art and science. Without new efforts to visualize complex ideas, structures, and systems, today's information explosion would be unmanageable. The digital image represents endless options...
Chapter
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Of the eudaimonst,deontic, utilitarian and post-structural ethical codes applied to the visual media, perhaps the ancient virtue ethics in the religions of the Book is proved right in the case of Abu Ghraib. Where torture is continued by the circulation of humiliating images, the logic of Scarry and Sontag's ethics of hurt is to curtail the circula...
Chapter
There is no single digital aesthetics. The term is plural. There is an aesthet-ics of code, and industrial design (Gelernter 1998), of specific software packages like Flash (Munster 2003), of programming and interface design (Fishwick 2006), of sound (Dyson 2009), of viruses (Parikka 2007). And yet there is, intuitively, something which seems to dr...
Article
Like the category ‘e’ films of Jean-Louis Comolli and Pierre Narboni (21), the contemporary blockbuster sets out in support of the dominant ideology but contains, in this instance in its technological foundations, an intrinsic contradiction. They contradict Wittgenstein (22): they are not reduplications of what is the case, but statements of the no...
Article
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For Flusser, codes embedded in any apparatus feed on human use to produce new combinations to assimilate into the apparatus itself. This more general application of the word apparatus includes not only the mechanical device but the ensemble formed by manufacture, clubs, publications, galleries, newspapers and magazines, people and their institution...
Article
Sardar's “Welcome to Postnormal Times” describes the chaotic, contradictory and uncertain climate today, and analyses the failure of progress, modernisation or efficiency to provide ethical, political or even trustworthy economic solutions to the instability of the present. Missing in his analysis is the role of knowledge, especially as it is migra...
Chapter
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This article addresses the ephemeral nature of digital media, especially of artworks designed for the world wide web and other network devices. It traces debates over the nature of digital aesthetics, including discussions of software authoring, interaction and conviviality. It looks at low and high tech paths, suggesting that the fundamental diale...
Article
In films as disparate as The Garden of Allah (1935), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Kingdom of Heaven (2005), sunlight is given an aural presence of considerable distinction. Perhaps only the tradition of the nocturne has acquired such a recognizable audio palette. This paper investigates the types of sounds used to characterize heat and light, with...
Article
This essay is about two single-channel digital video artworks by Auckland artist Stella Brennan, South Pacific (2007, 11 minutes), made with David Perry, and The Middle Landscape (2009, 10.30 mins). In rather different ways, these meditative works, which combine imagery, on-screen text and sound, speak to, from and of the necessary but historically...
Article
There are two forms of creative practice: (a) Formal perfection, which poses itself as the negation of the contradictory nature of the human world; (b) formal contradiction, which articulates the contradictions of the human world. Very rarely something attempts both. This is the case with Jean Renoir’s La Règle du jeu (1939), which is formally perf...
Article
Digital or electronic cinemas are dependent on a global regime of standards covering such features as aspect ratios, colour gamuts, screen resolution and compression-decompression algorithms. These standards are worked out by a variety of intersecting organizations representing a variety of interests. This article argues that such standardization i...
Article
The concept of play has been a touchstone for cultural studies since the translation of Mikhail Bakhtin’s work on carnival (1968), a natural and liberating resistance to domination. As the neo-baroque constructs its spectacles, it requires a spectacular, unquestionable depiction of both Evil and the Good (Bather 2004). Articulated as it is with the...
Article
Twenty-first century media are integral to the making, dissemination and business of art. They are also the infrastructure of neoliberal globalisation. Artists and cultural activists can no longer ignore the technical workings of network media, nor how they are constructed politically in global and national policy forums. This article analyses the...
Article
21st century media are integral to the making, dissemination and business of art. They are also the infrastructure of neo-liberal globalisation. Artists and cultural activists can no longer ignore the technical workings of network media, nor how they are constructed politically in global and national policy forums. This article analyses the loss of...
Article
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This article addresses the techniques and materials used in the production of The Band Concert (1935), a seven-minute Technicolor Mickey Mouse cartoon. An investigation of the standardization of drawing and line in the context of the histories of technical drawing and the industrialization of animation is followed by a description of the use of col...
Chapter
Stylistic traits of the neo-baroque: fluid navigational rather than decoupage; multi-layered soundtracks; composition in depth, frequently achieved through multi-plate compositing; visual spaces veering towards the indecipherable; characters gifted with a kind of spatial omnivoyance; semantic structures raised on themes of narcissism; all suggestin...
Article
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The absence of an uninterrupted, lived tradition of critical inquiry into and artistic engagement with technology led to the spread of certain ideologies regarding media or digital media which can be characterised as determinist, instrumentalist and essentialist. Such discourses emerge not only in the myths of cypertopians, but in the practical pol...
Chapter
Typically, we hope for a film to become an agent, an Other with which we dialogue; but here the internal dedifferentiation of the characters spurs a second, external dedifferentiation. That 'Infernal Affairs' meets with such recognition as a popular success is due to a different order of truth: one that depicts epic, heroic, ethical failure as a ch...
Chapter
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The multicultural Liverpool of the 2000s, for all its inequality, for all the residual racism, not only finds expression in the art scene: it is in many respects a product of it. It is a truism of globalisation studies that the new global polity is unthinkable without global communications. Equally neither the new global cultures vividly evident in...
Chapter
A theory of transiecne applied to the art-historical context of Aotearoa New Zealand
Chapter
Undertakes an overview of the technologies involved at the hardware and protocol levels in the operation of the large screen in Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia. In the first instance, it looks at LED technology. It backs that up with the protocols – in this instance the compression-decompression algorithms or codecs – used as the basis fo...
Chapter
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Brief account of difficulties of essentialising digital media
Article
For indigenous, setller and migrant cultures, places operate very differently. Creating places in digital media is always a matter of transience for all three. This is not only a matter of the ephemerality of the medium. It concerns the relationship between the user and the artefact. The transient places created in digital media are not traditional...
Chapter
Establishes the range of materials required for a study of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy and its audiences
Chapter
Both the epic scale of the three-film production, with its mix of technical demands, and the hugely inventive techniques deployed in post, made the trilogy an important site for the study of new-generation Hollywood
Chapter
Detailed account of the economic provisions for production, political arguments concerning subsidy, on-set accountancy and subsequent legal cases on the LOTR film trilogy
Article
Technology has in general been seen as opposed to humanity: its object, even its enemy. The Grundrisse suggests however that technology can be understood as the actualised form of accumulated social knowledge. This actual form can then be understood from the standpoint of a dialectic in which the actual is capable of action only if it can convert i...
Article
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Article
in the presence of light, black is only ever virtual. I mean the word in its technical sense: black is an unrealised capacity, the goal of a tendency that is never fully realised. The alternative, in ?lm and electronic imaging, has been to achieve maximum contrast: that is, to use the wisdom of colour combinations to persuade us that the greys of t...
Article
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The exhibition Eyes, Lies and Illusions held at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne and the Hayward Gallery in London was a selection from the 20,000 optical toys, scientific instruments, antiquarian books and visual entertainments in the collection of Werner Nekes, the German experimental film maker. This article begins...
Article
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Miniatures, bigatures, digital mattes, 3D animation, costume, set and prop design, forced perspective, location and studio shoots all contributed to the creation of Middle-earth. The panoply of visual effects LOTR uses to build Middle-earth's image has become familiar, not just from the films but also from television specials, websites, DVD appendi...
Article
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As the unconscious of mnemotechnic machines, the crowd is still structured by what excludes it. In the art of the future, it will be vital to restructure that relationship by assuming the crowd as the unit of consciousness. As we know, however, there is no 'unit' of consciousness: consciousness is not thinkable in less than the face-to-face relatio...
Chapter
Mismatch between corporate, creative and national goals for the project of the trilogy
Chapter
Materials for reception studies
Chapter
This paper addresses the specific technical qualities of Flash Video and its underlying codec. It suggests that the current divergence of high and low resolution media is indicative of a change in the nature of mediated social structures. It suggests that low-resolution media may have a greater utopian dimension, albeit still a very depleted one, t...
Chapter
Adaptation from a much-loved and very long novel required a great deal of controversial abbreviation
Chapter
Typical forms of stardom being set aside; concerns for both fan identification and for the credibility of new technological solutions to the realisation of fantasy characters made the LOTR films laboratories for new cultural and economic relations in film performance

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