Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 7:30pm
Carry on Talking

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

A lecture by Felicity D. Scott

“In the first all-out adoption here of the principle that the medium is the message, planners of an international conference on human settlements have decided that films will replace speeches,” Don Shannon announced in the Los Angles Times. Shannon was referring to Habitat: The United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, which took place in Vancouver in 1976, and to the distinctly McLuhanesque shift from talk and print-media to film and new audio-visual formats which the UN and the Canadian government tested during this international event. This lecture will address this remarkable and problematic attempt to integrate film as a medium and as a tool into an expanding apparatus of developmentalism geared to managing environments and populations in the Global South. It will trace both the recruiting and production of filmmakers within this complex machinery as well as some unexpected connections to the recent history of multi-screen cinema, including the National Film Board of Canada’s famous Labyrinth project at Expo 67. If the Habitat films themselves were put forward as offering a “global snapshot” of the mid-1970s, as helping to overcome the “inherent limitations of multilingual political rhetoric” and as vehicles to “mobilize shame,” the eruption of film into this context, cast as “visual statements,” required an elaborate administrative and technical apparatus to put into effect. If giving rise to repeated anxieties that the UN conference had turned into a film festival, this strategic deployment of the medium did not leave film untouched, the terms of which I will try to unpack. If film was thought to be a “new medium for governments,” the structural ambivalence of its visual logics and its dissemination within a “wired city” system designed specifically for the conference, would complicate the organizers’ desired integration of film as a strictly narrative form. - FDS

Felicity D. Scott is Associate Professor of Architecture and founding director of the program in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture (CCCP) at Columbia University. Her research focuses on articulating genealogies of political and theoretical engagement with questions of technological transformation within modern and contemporary architecture, as well as within the discourses and institutions that have shaped and defined the discipline. Her book, Architecture or Techno-Utopia: Politics After Modernism, was published by MIT Press in 2007, and Living Archive 7: Ant Farm, appeared on ACTAR Editorial in 2008. She is currently a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin where she is working on a book entitled “Outlaw Territories: Environments of Insecurity/Architectures of Counter-Insurgency, 1966-1979” to be published by Zone Books. Felicity was a founding co-editor of Grey Room.

Tickets - Pay-what-you-wish ($7 suggested donation), available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.