Noam Elcott Senior Fellow

Juni 2017
Cranachstraße 47, 1. OG, Raum 125
Tel.: +49 (0) 3643 – 58 40 14

Vita

Associate Professor, Columbia University, 2015-present.
Assistant Professor, Columbia University, 2008-2015.
PhD, Princeton University 2009.
BA, Columbia University 2000.
Recipient of Fulbright, Mellon, DAAD, and other fellowships.

Fields of research

Modern art history. History of photography. Film history. Media theory and history.

IKKM Research Project

Phantasmagoric Painting: Hans Richter, Theo van Doesburg, and László Moholy-Nagy between Canvas and Screen

“Phantasmagoric Painting: Hans Richter, Theo van Doesburg, and László Moholy-Nagy between Canvas and Screen,” which is the first chapter of my second book, Art in the First Screen Age: László Moholy-Nagy and the Cinefication of the Arts, revolves around competing operative ontologies of the screen. More precisely, it distinguishes the “canvas” (Leinwand) and “film-canvas” (Filmleinwand) central to essentialist definitions of art and film (Greenberg, Arnheim, et al.) from the unheralded “screen” (Schirm) promulgated by avant-garde artists and theorists like Moholy-Nagy, Richter, and van Doesburg. In the essentialist readings of interwar art, the canvas/screen foregrounded its own properties (flatness, rectangularity, etc.) in a self-critical effort to delimit “the unique and proper area of competence” of each medium (Greenberg). An alternative effort, however, endeavored to construct a screen that would facilitate the (Hegelian) collapse of image and viewer, art and life. This avant-garde screen, as I demonstrate through meticulous historical analysis, had all the properties of the phantasmagoric screen, even if contemporaneous critics and recent scholars failed to make the connection. In the case of interwar abstract painting and film, the distinction between the modernist dream of self-reflexivity and the avant-gardist dream to merge art and life hinged on the infrathin difference between canvas and screen, the assertion of limits and the dissolution of boundaries. This reading is only possible through a synthesis of media archaeology and rigorous art history.

Recent publications

Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and Media. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. Winner of the 2017 Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award.

Art in the First Screen Age: László Moholy-Nagy and the Cinefication of the Arts. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, in preparation.

“The Phantasmagoric Dispositif: An Assembly of Bodies and Images in Real Time and Space.” Grey Room 62 (Winter 2016): 42-71. German translation in Nach dem Film no. 15 (2017).

“Counter-History Paintings: Stan Douglas’s Photo-Panoramas,” in Stan Douglas (Hasselblad/MACK: Göteborg, Sweden), 2016.

“Experimentation: From Darkroom to Laptop.” In Photography at MoMA: 1960 until Now, 316-319. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2015.