Current Research by Faculty and Fellows
The graduate program in Visual and Cultural Studies is an active research community. Here are some of the current research projects that the VCS affiliated faculty and fellows are working on or have recently completed.
VCS Affiliated Postdoctoral Fellow, Kyle Parry, is currently working on a multi-pronged project around documentary responses to events of environmental violence. In an article on Katrina and his book manuscript—"Disaster and Assembly: Digital Memory, Visual Culture, and Environmental Violence"—Parry examines the histories, politics, and potentials of those responses that involve practices of digital and visual documentary assembly and archiving. Complementing this written scholarship are critical media projects in the domain of disaster and digital/visual culture, including an initiative undertaken in collaboration with data librarians and the Digital Humanities Center at the University of Rochester called Visualizing the Exxon Valdez Spill. That project began as a 2015 installation at Harvard Art Museums entitled Cleanup; it involves reassembly and redescription of digitized state-produced visual documentation of the 1989 disaster.
VCS Affiliated faculty, Peter Christensen, is currently engaged in two research projects. One is the research and development of a software platform that applies facial recognition technology to the study of buildings and serially-produced objects. The pilot project for this platform will be the subject of Christensen’s current book project: a study of the German-designed buildings of the Ottoman railway network. In addition to the advantages that such a platform would have for the study of visual culture writ large, Christensen foresees that the platform will specifically allow him to identify the subtle “transmutations” of the prefabricated German plans for these structures by their Ottoman builders. Christensen is also in the early phases of a large research project on the cultural and architectural history of the Suez Canal.
VCS Affiliated faculty, Joel Burges, is currently working on a project discussing the work of noted artist William Kentridge, who recently visited the University of Rochester as 2013 Distinguished Visitor in the Humanities. That project is entitled Out of Sync and Out of Work: Temporal Sensation in the Culture of Obsolescence, 1973-Present, which works at the nexus of economic history and aesthetic theory to situate Kentridge and other contemporary figures—Kevin Jerome Everson, Cherie Priest, Wes Anderson, China Miéville—in the political economy of time that has emerged over the past forty years.
VCS Steering Committee member, Jason Middleton, from the English Department is currently writing an article on Chris Marker’s Letter from Siberia and Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In addition to this project, he is also completing a book manuscript project, “Volatile Visions: Process and Decay in Film and Video.”
VCS Steering Committee member, Douglas Crimp, recently completed a book on Andy Warhol’s films, “Our Kind of Movie”: The Films of Andy Warhol published by the MIT Press. Discussing the book with Artforum.com, Douglas Crimp said, “I am as interested in the queerness of Warhol’s formal experimentation as I am in the queerness of the social world he represented—or rather I should say that, for me, a queer social world comes into view as a result of Warhol’s formal experimentation.”
VCS faculty, A. Joan Saab, another Steering Committee member, is working on a collaborative 3D architecture project, “Animating the Archives: Claude Bragdon and American Architecture,” with an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Rochester. The project hopes to recreate Bragdon’s masterpiece, the Rochester train station, as a virtual, interactive 3-D model, layered with historical documents, letters, and video testimonials. It was recently covered in the local newspaper, Democrat & Chronicle.