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The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses Hardcover – January 19, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The promise of Laura Marks’s The Skin of Film is the promise of thinking and living between critical discourses, experiences and cultures: the willingness to explore an embodied response capable of meeting the ‘hybrid microcultures’ of global modernity; the power to transform the memory of images, things, and the senses into ‘sensuous geographies’ of touch, smell and rhythm that inhabit and drift into a world increasingly divided between the policed frontier and the ‘placeless’ metropolis; and finally, the capacity to dwell in the critical interstice that allows thought to articulate itself on the edge of the unthought. - Tollof Nelson, CiNéMAS


“[A] fascinating exploration of the ways that diasporic filmmakers have excavated, rediscovered, and reignited cultural memories through appeals to multisensorial forms of recollection that challenge the Western cinematic reliance on visual imagery . . . . [H]ighly informative and will introduce the reader to many intercultural works that have previously gone unnoticed. Marks’s clear exuberance for her work and passion for the films she discusses also shine through. Highly recommended.” - Avi Santo, The Velvet Light Trap


"[A]n important document and substantial treatment of many sometimes ephemeral works of intercultural cinema. . . . Marks draws on a rich and somewhat dazzling array of theoretical sources and disciplinary fields. . . . The Skin of the Film also offers a very rich and extensive archive of intercultural cinematic productions of the eighties and nineties. . . . She manages to cover a vast range of work in an elegant, often moving writing style with curatorial detail. . . . [A]n extremely stimulating and original book. It signals a promising and very welcome move in film theory. . . . It has much to contribute to the emerging literature on affect in political and cultural studies. . . . Like the sound of dripping water or an itch that you don’t feel until you scratch, once your attention is drawn to The Skin of the Film, it becomes impossible to ignore it." - Tamara Vukov, Topia: A Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies


"[A] rich and rewarding read. . . . The Skin of the Film is quite unique. Offering important contributions to the redefinition of aesthetic scholarship, the author simultaneously conducts close readings of filmic works which are not well known, and presents nuanced readings of their significance, within an original theoretical framework."
- Melanie Swalwell, Film-Philosophy


“A marvelous interweaving of theory and historiography. This is a book that can interest film theorists, film historians, students of performance art, and scholars of postcoloniality and interculturalism. Marks explains—with rich detail—a whole range of recent cultural productions in film and video and makes those works come to life. The Skin of the Film suggests important ways to extend film theory.”—Dana Polan, University of Southern California


“Marks’s nuanced reading of a large number of films and videos is based on her deep engagement with the politics of place and displacement that drives the films. This book is a delightful read.”—Hamid Naficy, Rice University


“This is a terrific book! Not only does it have a significant argument to make, but it also works with a variety of little-known film/video examples in such a way as to give the reader both a vivid sense of them and a desire to go out and get hold of them.”—Vivian Sobchack, University of California at Los Angeles


“[A] fascinating exploration of the ways that diasporic filmmakers have excavated, rediscovered, and reignited cultural memories through appeals to multisensorial forms of recollection that challenge the Western cinematic reliance on visual imagery . . . . [H]ighly informative and will introduce the reader to many intercultural works that have previously gone unnoticed. Marks’s clear exuberance for her work and passion for the films she discusses also shine through. Highly recommended.”
(Avi Santo, The Velvet Light Trap)

“The promise of Laura Marks’s The Skin of Film is the promise of thinking and living between critical discourses, experiences and cultures: the willingness to explore an embodied response capable of meeting the ‘hybrid microcultures’ of global modernity; the power to transform the memory of images, things, and the senses into ‘sensuous geographies’ of touch, smell and rhythm that inhabit and drift into a world increasingly divided between the policed frontier and the ‘placeless’ metropolis; and finally, the capacity to dwell in the critical interstice that allows thought to articulate itself on the edge of the unthought.
(Tollof Nelson, CiNéMAS)

"[A] rich and rewarding read. . . . The Skin of the Film is quite unique. Offering important contributions to the redefinition of aesthetic scholarship, the author simultaneously conducts close readings of filmic works which are not well known, and presents nuanced readings of their significance, within an original theoretical framework."
(Melanie Swalwell, Film-Philosophy)

"[A]n important document and substantial treatment of many sometimes ephemeral works of intercultural cinema. . . . Marks draws on a rich and somewhat dazzling array of theoretical sources and disciplinary fields. . . . The Skin of the Film also offers a very rich and extensive archive of intercultural cinematic productions of the eighties and nineties. . . . She manages to cover a vast range of work in an elegant, often moving writing style with curatorial detail. . . . [A]n extremely stimulating and original book. It signals a promising and very welcome move in film theory. . . . It has much to contribute to the emerging literature on affect in political and cultural studies. . . . Like the sound of dripping water or an itch that you don’t feel until you scratch, once your attention is drawn to The Skin of the Film, it becomes impossible to ignore it."
(Tamara Vukov, Topia: A Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies)

From the Publisher

“A marvelous interweaving of theory and historiography. This is a book that can interest film theorists, film historians, students of performance art, and scholars of postcoloniality and interculturalism. Marks explains—with rich detail—a whole range of recent cultural productions in film and video and makes those works come to life. The Skin of the Film suggests important ways to extend film theory.”—Dana Polan, University of Southern California

“This is a terrific book! Not only does it have a significant argument to make, but it also works with a variety of little-known film/video examples in such a way as to give the reader both a vivid sense of them and a desire to go out and get hold of them.”—Vivian Sobchack, University of California at Los Angeles

“Marks’s nuanced reading of a large number of films and videos is based on her deep engagement with the politics of place and displacement that drives the films. This book is a delightful read.”—Hamid Naficy, Rice University

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (January 19, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822323583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822323587
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,482,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Laura U. Marks is known for her innovative work on embodied aesthetics, using a philosophical approach that draws primarily on the work of Gilles Deleuze and also on existential phenomenology. Her work arises from close engagement with art, not applying concepts to art but drawing concepts from it. Her cross-cultural research aims to expand the Western intellectual vocabulary with concepts and artworks from minor traditions and other places, in particular the Arab world.

Marks is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. After earning a B.A. in Art History and Sociology and Anthropology at Swarthmore College in 1987, she worked for several years as assistant editor of the journal Afterimage. The non-profit art world nurtured her as a critic and curator, and she began to publish art criticism and curate programs of experimental media art. She earned an M.A. (1994) and Ph.D. (1996) in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester. She took the post of Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa for several years, where she was also a media programmer with the Available Light Collective. Marks is presently the Dena Wosk University Professor of Art and Culture Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Her doctoral thesis became the book The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses (Duke University Press, 2000), which proved extremely influential in the "embodied turn" in humanities scholarship.

A collection of her more experimental writings, Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (University of Minnesota, 2002) expanded into the senses, particularly smell, eroticism, and electronic media. She continues to develop intercultural perspectives on new media art and philosophical approaches to materiality and information culture. Several years of research in these and in Islamic art history and philosophy and Arabic gave rise to Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art (MIT Press, 2010). This book brings Deleuze's thought into contact with points in the history of Islamic philosophy and theology, and draws on Islamic art to shed new light on contemporary media art. The analysis in Enfoldment and Infinity is based on Marks' theory of enfolding-unfolding aesthetics, which she has developed in writings since 2002.

Since 1990 she has written about and curated programs of the media arts of the Arab and Muslim world. This research takes her to Beirut, Cairo, and Damascus and gives her the opportunity to improve her Arabic. She is preparing a book on experimental media in the Arab world and finishing another on enfolding-unfolding aesthetics.

Marks has been invited to lecture around the world. Her writings have been translated into Czech, Flemish, French, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish. She has curated programs of experimental and independent media art for festivals, collectives, and art spaces worldwide, including the Images Festival (Toronto), the Oberhausen Short Film Festival, the Argos Festival (Brussels), the Pacific Cinemathèque (San Francisco), and the Seoul Net and Experimental Film Festival.

www.sfu.ca/~lmarks

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By dirpk on June 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Laura Marks' analysis of the connection between film/video and the senses, particularly our non-audiovisual senses, is fantastic. The focus of The Skin of the Film is work by filmmakers and video artists who live apart from their native culture and make work about this separation. The artists discussed in this book draw upon sensory experience to relate personal accounts of loss, longing, and remembering. Marks' in depth discussion and analysis gets at the heart of sensory memory that we all experience. Additionally, she relates this to strategies used by filmmakers throughout the history of cinema to push the cinematic experience beyond its audiovisual roots. I recommend this book for artists and film enthusiasts alike.
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