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AstroGeneAnaLogy: How to Relate Post-Cinema to Its Pre-Histories

Ulrich Meurer
Tuesday, March 30, 2021, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff of the Department of History,

We are continuing our departmental tradition of organizing bi-weekly research seminars. In these seminars, professors and researchers provide insights into their current work.

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AstroGeneAnaLogy: How to Relate Post-Cinema to Its Pre-Histories


Speaker: Ulrich Meurer, visiting professor at CEU’s Visual Studies Platform and professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Düsseldorf

Abstract: Subject to a radically deterministic model of ‘history’, a high-performance mainframe computer might re-actualize every moment of the past from its complex effects in the present. Following this assumption, the recent TV mini-series DEVS (2020) dreams up a minute digital retrojection of Christ on the cross, complete with a soundfile in Aramaic.

In contrast to such a direct data-based time leap, current explorations into the ‘pre-history’ of media are developing elaborate methods to relate contemporary audiovisualities to exceedingly distant pasts: The association of medieval ‘embodied vision’ or holy reliquaries with modern 3-D cinema (A. Griffiths) relies on the replacement of ‘history’ with a Nietzschean idea of non-linear genealogies. The return of 9th-century Islamic philosophy and aesthetics in computer-based media art (L. Marks) makes use of the Deleuzian concept of the past’s enfoldment. And the linking of Byzantine icons and theories of vision to the pixel structures and data flows of screen media (U. Meurer) adopts philosophical notions of economy and skhesis ...

The talk focuses on the figures and metaphores that are employed here to describe the relations between late antiquity, the Middle Ages and the present. It sheds light on some of the metahistorical motifs in media studies, on my own co-ordination of historical ‘eras’ – and on the question whether DEVS’ on-screen crucifixion could, in the end, serve as a methodological thought-image of the contact between virtual past and actual present.

Bio: Ulrich Meurer is visiting professor at CEU’s Visual Studies Platform and teaches Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Düsseldorf. After receiving his PhD in American and Film Studies at the University of Konstanz, he was Assistant Professor at the Department of Comparative Literature at Leipzig and Associate Professor of Film Theory and History at Vienna. In addition to grants and research stays (at the Hellenic Institute for Byzantine Studies, Venice, Princeton University, and MIT), he held visiting professorships at Vienna and Bochum. He is the author of Topographies: Concepts of Space in Postmodern Literature and Film (in German), has edited several books on cinema cultures and published widely on audiovisual media. See also: