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Cinema and Media Studies Seminar led by Dr. Abraham Geil: Operational Imaginaries

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Operational Imaginaries

Cinema and Media Studies Seminar led by Dr. Abraham Geil (University of Amsterdam)

The field of Film and Media Studies has recently witnessed a resurgence of interest in "operational images," a category formalized in the early 2000s by the German filmmaker and theorist Harun Farocki to describe the military and industrial applications of machine vision. Defined by Farocki as images that "do not represent an object but are part of an operation," the concept has been reanimated by media scholars in the context of algorithmic culture and AI as a means for grasping the conversion of images into abstract data for the analysis by computational processes that have no need of the sensible image as such. This paradigm of operativity presumes a regime of images that is bracketed out from cultural representations. It invokes images that are ingrained in protocoled sequences of mechanical inputs and outputs, and that, in our present time, seem to be even further removed from human apprehension. This workshop seeks to trace the echoes of such operational abstraction in the present of our political imagination. By shifting from a narrower taxonomy of images to the broader frame of the imaginary–construed as both a locus and method–we will consider the significance of Farocki’s critical paradigm for studying the cultural and political logics of operativity at work in a diverse range of media objects.

List of readings for the seminar:

1. Harun Farocki, "Phantom Images"

2. Aud Sissel Hoel, “Operative Images. Inroads to a New Paradigm of Media Theory”

3. Laliv Melamed, "Operational Imaginaries"

4. Jussi Parrika, "Operational Images: Between Light and Data"

5. Sean Cubbit, "Mass Image, Anthropocene Image, Image Commons"

To RSVP and receive the pdfs of readings for the seminar, please email Luka Arsenjuk at


St. Mary's Hall

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Multipurpose Room


School of Languages, Literatures, & Cultures

For disability accommodations, please contact Barbara Lewis at

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