HFMK03025U FM, Module 2: Culture, genres and aesthetics: Precarious Aesthetics

Volume 2015/2016

Master in Film and Media Studies


Is it … always an advantage to replace an indistinct picture by a sharp one? Isn't the indistinct one often exactly what we need? (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §71)

This course will examine why non-transparent photographic imagery paradoxically can be rhetorically more seductive and produce stronger emotional affect in the viewer than ordinary transparent imagery. 

This issue becomes important to interrogate in a visual culture defined by an aesthetic of noise. This is a culture where Instagram was recently bought by Facebook for 1 billion $, and where low-fidelity retrograde imagery of various kinds circulate across domains, from fiction films and documentaries to television news and art installations. Images that are blurred, noisy and non-transparent may invite us to see the world, yet at the same time, they obstruct our view, often to dazzling effect.

In order to address such images as they operate in a number of cases, the course will draw on a combination of 1) media theory, 2) film theory and 3) photography theory, 4) digital theory concerning remediation and media change, and 5) theories of audience interpretation and emotional reactions. 

The course is tightly connected to the research project “The Power of the Precarious Aesthetic” supported by the Danish Research Council from 2012-2015. Thus, it allows you to get in touch with ongoing research about an important issue in the present visual culture and be part of a common effort to develop our understanding of the operational logics informing this mediation and the curious forms of fascination it can produce.


Information about the research project can be found here http://mcc.ku.dk/research/focus-areas/precarious-aesthetic/ and about our October conference here http://bcnm.berkeley.edu/index.php/precarious-aesthetics-call-for-papers/

Learning Outcome

Master in Film and Media Studies 2013-curriculum:
Module 2: Culture, genres and aesthetics: HFMK03021E 
Module 7: Optionel subject 1: HFMK03131E
Module 7: Optionel subject 2: HFMK03141E
Module 7: Optional subject 3: HFMK03151E
Module 7: Optional subject 4: HFMK03161E

Curriculum for the Master’s Programme in Film Studies, The 2008 Curriculum:
Module 6: Optionel subject 1: HFVA04171E
Module 6: Optionel subject 1: HFVA04181E
Module 6: Optionel subject 2: HFVA04191E
Module 6: Optionel subject 2: HFVA04201E

Curriculum for Master's Programme in Media Studies, The 2008 Curriculum:
Module 3: Media, aesthetics and genres: HMEK03131E

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 42
  • Course Preparation
  • 367,5
  • Total
  • 409,5
Type of assessment
The Exam will be conducted in English
Criteria for exam assesment