Announcement December 2019
Format Matters: Standards, Practices, and Politics in Media Cultures
The conference volume edited by Marek Jancovic, Axel Volmar, and Alexandra Schneider
7-9 December 2017
Department of Film Studies/Media Dramaturgy, Institute of Film, Theater and empirical Cultural Studies
Venues: Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (Atrium Maximum), Haus am Dom Mainz
Organized by Alexandra Schneider, Marek Jancovic & Nicole Braida
The conference Format Matters at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz brings together international scholars from a variety of disciplines to explore the cultural meaning, social dynamics and aesthetic effects of media formats.
“Format” can refer to a great range of very dissimilar objects, practices and cultural registers: From the size or folding of a book to the shape, color and “weight” of a film; from the durational rhythms of a television program and syntactic orderings of a computer file to formalized ways of recordkeeping, cataloging and description. Formats are historically specific modes of organizing sensory experience that inscribe the economic, technological and cultural conditions of a particular age into concrete objects. Format is the categorizing instrument that allows us to meaningfully understand the hierarchy of cultural and material gradations by which “tabloid” is related to “broadsheet”, or 8mm film is differentiated from a Laserdisc.
Despite the central role it plays for film, television, media and literary studies, questions of format have thus far remained subordinate to form, content or genre. Only recently, with the appearance of a number of case studies across various media, the study of formats began experiencing increased urgency, with media historian Jonathan Sterne even suggesting the necessity of a field of ‘format theory’. Building on this important previous work, Format Matters aims to further the methodological and theoretical concerns and contribute towards a deeper understanding of the function of formats in media culture.
16.30-17.15 Opening and Welcome
- Ramon Lobato (Melbourne): "Formats and Formalization in Digital Advertising"
- Wanda Strauven (Frankfurt/Bologna): "Let’s Dance: GIF 1.0 versus GIF 2.0"
(Chair: Alexandra Schneider)
- Axel Volmar (Siegen): "Formats as Media of Cooperation. Some Thoughts on Format Theory"
- Carlos Spoerhase (Bielefeld): "Radical Re-formatting: Schiller’s Drama of Scale"
(Chair: Rembert Hüser)
- Markus Stauff (Amsterdam): "The Sports Highlight as Cross-Media Format: Technology, Aesthetics, Property"
- Florian Hoof (Lüneburg): "'Rumble in the Format Jungle': On the Instability of Live Broadcasting Formats"
(Chair: Marek Jancovic)
13.15-14.45 Lunch break
- Margarete Pratschke (Berlin): "Landscape or Portrait. An Art-historical Approach to Digital Displays"
- Oliver Fahle and Elisa Linseisen (Bochum): "Format Reflects Film History. HD’s Grand Narrative or SD’s Resistance through Low Resolution"
(Chair: Malte Hagener)
- Monika Dommann (Zürich): "At the Margins of Formats. A Historical Ethnography of Logistics"
- Lori Emerson (Boulder): "The Undersea Life of Other Networks"
(Chair: Florian Krautkrämer)
- Johannes Gfeller (Stuttgart): "Format and Historicity. CRT and Helical Scan as Major Cultural Technologies of the 2nd Half of the 20th Century"
- Erika Balsom (London): "Photochemical Film: Medium or Family of Formats?"
(Chair: Kristina Köhler)
- Jennifer Horne (UC Santa Cruz): "Format, the University, and the Idea of Intellectual Freedom"
- Kalani Michell (Frankfurt): "Cinema Journal in Your Ears: Podcasting Media Studies"
(Chair: Yvonne Zimmermann)