Film and Media (Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies) Graduate Theses

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    The Mothership: Multiplanetary Becomings and Reproducing Worlds
    (2024-03-28) Okabe, Naomi; Film and Media (Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies); Norton, Jenn; Na, Ali
    On November 16th, 2022, NASA launched Artemis I, the first of multiple missions propelling humanity toward a multiplanetary future in which we will build new worlds, terraforming environments both physically and ideologically. These “moon to mars” missions mark a new era of deep space exploration, the first in fifty years since the Apollo missions in the 1970s. This time, NewSpace venture capitalists are playing a prominent role, particularly since the Obama administration quietly shifted funding toward private corporations in 2011 (Valentine). Space, as a critical territory, simultaneously presents us with an opportunity to consider our future celestial societies, as well as our terrestrial existence here on earth (Boucher). This moment in history encapsulates the hopes and dreams of the “Artemis Generation” and requires ethico-political discourse to avoid “terraforming as enforced terranormativity” (Oman-Reagan), or approaching space settlement with normative or colonial systems of knowledge. Utilizing an interdisciplinary research-creation approach, I engage in speculation as practice, putting science fiction texts and methods in conversation with critical theory. This project centres four space feminist “missions” or chapters that include a cultural geography of NASA’s current Artemis program, the history of women in the space agency, and the political, ethical, and technological entanglements of putting bodies in space. I also explore what I refer to as the “Space M/other” film genre and the social and ethical implications of reproducing in space. Finally, I consider the power of science fiction as a medium that attends to the ineffable in social discourse and contextualize my own audio-based research-creation experiment—a “speculative soundscape essay.” This project is an attempt to triangulate themes of space exploration, motherhood, and science fiction in order to consider a mode of cosmic futurity that is more gestative, symbiotic, and germinal.
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    Aesthetic Divination: Surrealist Film As Dream Projection
    Zawacki, Sierrah D.; Film and Media (Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies); MacKenzie, Scott
    This project was created using research-creation methods and features a series of four short films that have been exhibited in The Isabel Bader Centre’s Art and Media Lab. In conjunction with the research and writing, the production experience and hands-on participation in the making of surrealist cinema contributed to a more in-depth understanding of the lines drawn between consciousness and unconsciousness in art creation and viewing. This research paper explores ideas on the relationship between the unconscious experienced in dreams and the unconscious production of art, conversing with theories from philosophers, writers, and artists alike such as Sigmund Freud and André Breton.
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    Nelvana Animation: Shifting Labour Conditions, Digital Tools and Their Influence on the Design of 2D Children’s Animated Series
    Kelly, Lauren B.; Film and Media (Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies); Pelstring, Emily; MacKenzie , Scott
    This research-creation project is supported by a theoretical paper overviewing the history of Nelvana Limited, the studio's economic growth and how the introduction of digital tools has impacted the aesthetic narrative of children’s animation. Applying the observations of cultural theorist Byung-Chul Han, the aesthetics of commercial 2D animation embrace smoothness as the positions of animators are reformed by neoliberal policy. The short film Bob and Anice Go To Corpo Hell compliments this research as an exercise in animation labour and an expression of the alienation of being a self-entrepreneur. Together, the works argue the value of human creativity within commercial animation production by linking the creative content of children's animated series to animators' working conditions and well-being in our digital age. Disrupting smooth aesthetics in animated works is one front on which animators can advocate for their labour: it requires changes to individuals’ workflow and level of creative input.
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    The Body, Touch and The Clay in Motion
    Malus, Andrea; Film and Media (Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies); Pelstring, Emily
    This media work project with a complementary written component is, in part, an exploration of the intergenerational trauma of survivors of the communist regime in former Czechoslovakia, where I grew up and began my artistic journey. In my thesis, I address the subject of controlling force and the symbolism of the hand as a tool for manipulation and a force of oppression. I discuss the view of the human body linked to thing theory, like an animator’s puppet or a prop, serving the large-scale system and playing a role in it. Furthermore, I explore allegory and its importance in translating the dissent with the regime in a way that allows for creative expression while, at the same time, shielding the source of its voice from dire consequences. Using the research-creation methodology, I examine the tactility and materiality behind the artistic mediums used in stop-motion animation. I specifically focus on various kinds of clay employing the methods of puppet-making, figural modelling, set building and animating in an attempt to bridge the disconnect and deformities of communication and elicit an embodied sense through emotional response in both the artist and the viewer. In both the film and installations exhibited during my master’s project exhibition, Traces of Gestures, the repeating imagery of hands and the transformation of clay point to the struggle for free expression, censorship, and oppression under the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989. The film, “The Dance of Malleability,” is layered with symbolism. Clay captures the traces of tactile gestures, expressions, and malleability, underlining the hand's profound relationship with the art medium. The film's narrative relays the dynamics of control as the two main characters engage in a dance of power, which, depending on one's perspective, does or does not resolve.
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    If Trans* Fish Could Sing: Trans* Embodiment in the Video Game
    Carandang, Francesca R.; Film and Media (Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies); Norton, Jenn
    This research-creation project is a study in the video game’s mediation of trans embodiment through the non-human. The non-human encapsulates the monstrous, the animal, and the inanimate, including tools used to make audiovisual media. Multiple independent games have used the non-human to express trans experiences or gender beyond cis-normative binaries. These games use monsters or animals as their characters, or implement non-conventional coding practices to reject cis-heteronormative structures of representation. Using the creation of the author’s own video game, and research across trans scholarship in the non-human and video games, this research-creation project examines possibilities for trans game practices.