introducing Laura U. Marks

Laura U.Marks is a media theorist, curator and holds a position as Associate Professor in the School for the Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.

In 2000 she published The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (Duke University Press, 2000) and in 2002 Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (Minnesota University Press, 2002).

Related interests lead her into the research field thematically delineated by herself as Islamic Aesthetics, Attention, and the Abstract Line, the theme she also focused upon during her lecture at the conference ‘Sense and Sensation – On the Performativity of Perception’ in November 2004 at the FU Berlin, section ‘Kulturen des Performativen’. This following interview was conducted during the period of her stay in Berlin.

In the two published books The Skin of the Film (2000) and Touch (2002) Laura U.Marks explores her apprehension concerning the field of haptic visuality. Her research attempts to escape dominating theories of representation and interpretations of the ‘Gaze’ as derived from Lacanian psychoanalysis with one point of departure being Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s concept of the ‘smooth space’. Their understanding of the smooth as an element of the haptic space as a distinction between optical and haptic visuality can be achieved through the difference in the attitude of accessing space/territory. Thus the selected definition of this movement of access also defines the subject – object relation within the sensuous approach and consequently regulates it either into an embodied or disembodied perceptional experience.

These immanent facts of the analysis define the political impact inherent in any notion of vision and mark the difficulty of a simple neglecting critizism of either visual concept. In this sense focusing on haptic visuality(*) can be seen as the attempt to redefine notions of the visual field. Following the less recognizable image led Laura U. Marks’ research into the field of the more abstract visual pattern of embodied spectatorship. It is the missing flow between the haptic and the optical in the dominant culture of vision which stimulated this approach, but eventually might conclude on interestingly crucial and paradoxical overlappings within the underlying algorithmic patterns.

>>> interview
(*) ‘Haptic Visuality: Touching with the Eyes‘, Frameworks 02/2004;
Kulturen des Performativen

Reviews of Laura U.Marks’ books:

Deleuzian Film Analysis: The Skin of the Film, Donato Totaro,
off screen, June 2002

The Senses and Memory in Intercultural Cinema, Melanie Swalwell,
Film Philosophy, Vol. 6 No. 32, October 2002

Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media, Melinda Barlow
Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Fall 2003

This Time It’s Personal, Claire Perkins,
senses of cinema, September 2004

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