Reconfiguring the Portrait

Edited by Abraham Geil, Tomáš Jirsa

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Presents a new multidisciplinary perspective on portraiture in the era of post-digital media
  • Extends the domain of portraiture to include not just painting, photography, and film but also ethography, literature, music video, social media, digital apps and algorithmic facial recognition
  • Includes case studies from France, Italy, Germany, Finland, Russia, Mexico, Argentina, South Korea, Canada, and the United States
  • Presents ‘the portrait’ as a media-theoretical concept and traces its practices within diverse sets of material, technological, and media networks
  • Brings together both internationally renowned and emerging scholars across a range of disciplines, including: media studies, art history, critical theory, science and technology studies, and medical humanities, and animal studies

As technological practices of the portrait have proliferated across the media ecosystem in recent years, this canonical genre of identity and representation has provoked a new wave of scholarly attention and artistic experimentation.

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Introduction1. Configurations of Portraiture: Subjectivity, Techniques, Mediality, Abraham Geil and Tomáš Jirsa

Part I. Genealogies2. Operative Portraits, or How Our Faces Became Big Data, Roland Meyer3. ‘This Person Does Not Exist’: From Real Generalization to Algorithmic Abstraction in Photographic Portraiture, Daniël de Zeeuw and Abraham Geil4. The Face as Artifact: Towards an Artifactual Genealogy of the Portrait, Sigrid Weigel

Part II. (Inter)Faces5. When Face Becomes Interface: Music Video and the Portrait of Mediality, Tomáš Jirsa6. Tracing Minor Gestures: Relational Portrait with Fernand Deligny, Elena Vogman7. Lifelike Portraits and ‘Life Itself’: Deepfakes through Gothic Horror, Nicole Morse8. Animal Portraits in Social Media: A Case Study Named Esther, Elisa Aaltola

Part III. Self-Constructions9. The Subject in the Frame: Aesthetic Opacity and the Reverberations of Race, Gender, and Sexuality through the Portrait, Sudeep Dasgupta10. The Avatarisation of the (Self-)Portrait: Notes Towards a Theological Genealogy of the Virtual Self , Andrea Pinotti11. Iiu Susiraja: Self-shooting as Playful Practice, Kaisu Hynnä-Granberg and Susanna Paasonen12. The Quantification Trilogy’s Loss-of-Self Portraits, or Mediating the Technologies of the Self, Kate Rennebohm

Part IV. Afterlives13. As if to Say Nothing: On Balthus’s Portraits, Brian Price14. Speaking, through the Eyes, with the Dead, Georges Didi-Huberman15. Revenants: On the Animation of Dead People’s Portraits in Contemporary Technoculture, Pietro Conte

Index of Names

Some studies of the portrait are portraits of their subject, describing a singular thing in detail. This is not such a book. Geil and Jirsa have instead built a kaleidoscope, encased the portrait in its reflecting surfaces, and allowed their contributors to rotate it into motion, yielding ever-changing views of the portrait as a generative operation—of form, thought, abstraction, time, and media itself.
Eugenie Brinkema, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abraham Geil is Senior Lecturer in the Media Studies Department at the University of Amsterdam, where he directs the MA Program in Film Studies, and is a Senior Research Fellow at the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis (ASCA). His research and teaching lie at the intersection of critical theory, aesthetics, and film studies, with a focus on the history of film theory. He is the co-editor of Memory Bytes: History, Technology, and Digital Culture (Duke University Press, 2004). His recent articles can be found in journals such as Novel, Polygraph, World Picture, Paragraph, and Screen, as well as in edited collections on the work of Sergei Eisenstein and Jacques Rancière.

Tomáš Jirsa is Associate Professor of Literary Studies at Palacký University Olomouc, where he directs the PhD Program in Film, Television and Theatre Studies. Interested in relations between literature and the visual arts, affect theory, and music video studies, his most recent publications include Disformations: Affects, Media, Literature (Bloomsbury, 2021) and How to Do Things with Affects: Affective Triggers in Aesthetic Forms and Cultural Practices (Brill, 2019), co-edited with Ernst van Alphen. In 2015 and 2017, he was awarded a fellowship from The International Research Institute for Cultural Techniques and Media Philosophy (IKKM) in Weimar; in 2019, he was Visiting Scholar at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA).

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