Manners of Unfolding in the Cinema

A talk by Laura U. Marks, Simon Fraser University, presented by the Cinema Studies Institute, the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, and the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto.

Laura Marks

Laura U. Marks



4 p.m.-6 p.m.

(Corner of St. George and Sussex)


This talk continues my investigation of an enfolding-unfolding aesthetics for cinema. I suggest that the visible unfolds from the world—encountering some kinks along the way. The concept of the fold as a form of mediation arises from the thought of Deleuze, Leibniz, and Neoplatonism. We can think of mediation not as a barrier but as an enfolded, connective tissue between the beholder and the beheld. This tissue folds and unfolds in various ways occurring to the understanding of the relationships between image, information, and world (or infinite, to use another terminology). I draw from classical Islamic thought to elucidate different manners of unfolding.
For example, they may be understood as continuous, where the image unfolds from the infinite (or the real) with little intervention. This would be Bazinian realism, and it could also be described by Islamic Neoplatonism. They may be understood to resist unfolding; this would describe movies whose images encrypt their source and resist being unfolded, and could be understood in Isma‘ili Shi’ite terms of latency and manifestation. Or, for example, a film’s manner of unfolding would be to appear as confetti-like fragments whose relation to their source in the world cannot be unknown; this is best understood in terms of Islamic atomism.


Laura U. Marks's Bio:


Dr. Laura U. Marks is the Dena Wosk University Professor of Art and Culture Studies at Simon Fraser University.  A scholar, theorist, and curator of independent and experimental media arts, she is the author of The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (Duke University Press, 2000),Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory  Media (Minnesota University Press, 2002), and many essays. Several years of research in Islamic art history and philosophy gave rise to Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art (MIT Press, 2010). She has curated programs of experimental media for venues around the world. Her current research interests are the media arts of the Arab and Muslim world, intercultural perspectives on new media art, and philosophical approaches to materiality and information culture.


If you require special accommodations, please contact 416-978-5809 at least a day in advance. There is a wheelchair accessible entrance on Sussex, east doors.


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