Sean Cubitt

July 1, 09:30 – 10:30

Dissonance, Anachronism

The term ‘transcodification’ presumes the function of code, the dominant paradigm of communication since Shannon and Weaver’s ‘Mathematical Theory’ of 1949. Central to the concept of code is its distinction from noise.
Transcodification between media also raises a psychological understanding of the effect of transcoding on receivers,
cognitive dissonance, an equally dominant paradigm since Leon Festinger’s Theory of Cognitive Dissonance from Festinger’s choice of audio metaphor brings the psychological and mathematical theories into alignment. For both theories, dissonance and noise are discomforting and potentially dangerous. Anachronism is only one locus of interruption and interference at the levels of media phenomena and interpretation, whose ubiquity in comedy (for
example Monty Python’s Life of Brian) and adaptation (classically West Side Story‘s retelling of Romeo and Juliet) suggests it may be a ripe field for transcoding research. What can be learnt from studying ‘failures’ in transcoding? The paper will seek an answer in Hollywood’s re-versioning of its old films and film tropes, before expanding back to the critical role of errors in temporality as modes of noise and dissonance, with come reflections on their significance for an ecocritical aesthetics.

Note: in his talk, Professor Cubitt will examine the following clip from the film The Departed. To avoid the issues commonly associated with showing videos live through a video conferencing platform, we warmly encourage you to watch the clip before the keynote begins


Sean Cubitt is Professor of Screen Studies at the University of Melbourne. His publications include The Cinema Effect, Ecomedia, The Practice of Light, Finite Media and Anecdotal Evidence. Series editor for Leonardo Books at MIT Press, his current research is on political aesthetics, ecocritique, and practices of truth.