Conference on Film and Media


High/Low – Film & Media Graduate Student Conference

Fri, Feb 08, 2019, 5:00 pm to Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 1:00 am

142 Dwinelle

Keynote Speakers:

Laila Shereen Sakr, University of California, Santa Barbara

Rick Prelinger, University of California, Santa Cruz

Closing Remarks:

Abigail De Kosnik, University of California, Berkeley 


A degraded film strip. A lossy jpeg. A pirated cassette tape. An HBO drama. A Tomatometer rating. An amateur YouTube video. Questions of quality, taste, and resolution have been key to discourses about the moving image from cinema’s early days. Twenty-first century changes to our media environment replay debates about quality and resolution that have long circulated around the cinema. The 2019 Berkeley Film & Media Graduate Conference seeks to put into dialogue ideas of taste, quality, and resolution in form and content from the standpoint of the digital age. HIGH/LOW asks how historical understandings of quality, value, and taste persist or are challenged by emerging medial forms.

Media technologies have become increasingly relevant to fraught questions of access, inclusion, and exclusion. What is the role of so-called gatekeepers in the contemporary reception of media? How do big data and algorithmic curation determine formulas for value that function as criteria for 'quality'? How do useful and non-theatrical media forms feature into debates of quality? To what extent have digital technologies opened up new avenues for creation and circulation of content by amateurs and marginalized groups? What role does resolution/bandwidth play in the creation or dissemination of content? Have new forms of distribution and curation democratized viewing practices or siloed audiences into personalized echo chambers? What role do platforms have in determining how a given media is perceived in algorithmic culture?

This conference addresses  contemporary and historical questions of taste, quality and resolution, in cinematic and other medial forms.

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Sponsored by Townsend Center for the Humanities, Department of Film & Media, Berkeley Arts + Design, Berkeley Center for New Media, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, History of Art Department, Department of Art Practice, The Class of 1939 Professor of German and Film & Media, and The Class of 1937 Professor of Film & Media.