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Documentary, Contemporary Art, and the Descriptive Power of Lens-Based Capture

Thursday, November 15, 2018
4:30 pm
Harrison Hall 111

L.P. Irvin Lecture Series

Before joining the department at King’s in 2013, Erika Balsom held a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley (2010-2011) and was assistant professor of film studies at Carleton University, Ottawa (2011-2013).

Erika Balsom’s most recent book After Uniqueness: A History of Film and Video Art in Circulation (Columbia University Press in 2017) explores how artists and filmmakers have conceived of and confronted the reproducibility of film and video. For some, the copy is a utopian promise to be exploited; for others, it is a dangerous threat to be suppressed. After Uniqueness explores this ambivalence of the copy and the accompanying issues of access, authenticity, and rarity through a comparative analysis of selected distribution models (such as the limited edition, digital bootlegging, and the 8mm reduction print) and case studies of key works that take up questions of image circulation.

More broadly, Erika’s research interests include experimental documentary, the intersections of cinema and art, and histories of technological change. She is the co-editor of Documentary Across Disciplines (MIT Press, 2016), an anthology bringing together interventions at the vanguard of conceptualizing what documentary is, means, and can do. Exploring the many lives of documentary images, texts, and sounds – from the imperialist management of human life to redemptive encounters with the fragility of our world, from professional and disciplinary contexts to personal confrontations with mortality and alterity – this collection seeks to provide a capacious and interdisciplinary account of the vital field of practice that is documentary.

Sponsored by L.P. Irvin Lecture Fund, The Department of French & Italian, and Department of Media, Journalism and Film

Erika Balsom
Erika Balsom
King’s College London
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