Queer Aswang Transmedia: Camp Temporality and Philippine Folklore
Bliss Cua Lim Film and Media Studies, UC Irvine

In recent years, the aswang – a supernatural creature of Philippine folklore that is often associated with female monstrosity  and patriarchal misogyny – is being flamboyantly queered across a range of media. In the handful of texts that comprise queer aswang transmedia – a Filipino novel (Ricky Lee’s Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata [Amapola in 65 Chapters]), mainstream film (Mga Bata ng Lagim [Children of Terror], dir. Mar S. Torres, 1964), and amateur digital video (Amabilis 2, 2011) – the aswang, an iconic female monster, is being destabilized and re-imagined. Gay men (or more accurately, bakla subjects) are occupying the place formerly reserved for monstrous women. This queering of aswang transmedia is a forceful, funny, yet undeniably risky reapproriation lodged in language (“swardspeak”) and a kind of pinoy camp style. This talk attempts to theorize a distinctly Filipino camp sensibility in relation to queer time. It wrestles with queer aswang transmedia’s implications for both temporality (since anachronism underpins the cultural figures of both bakla and aswang) and visibility (queer scholars argue that the bakla, stigmatized as effeminate and lower class, is increasingly the object of forcible bourgeois erasure in the face of the urban gay scene’s aspirations toward global gay norms.)

Media in Mind: A Transactional Encounter
Daniel Reynolds Film and Media Studies, Emory University

How can we think ecologically about media?  To do so would be to think of media use as a system of organisms and objects in persistent dynamic relation to one another.  In order to understand how we perceive, interact with, and make meaning from media such as films and videogames, we ought to see them as embedded features of a physical environment in which we ourselves are also embedded.  Thinking about media in this way will necessarily emphasize continuity between media content and the world at large, between media experience and experience in general, and between media and their users.

A truly ecological conception of experience will see it as embodied, embedded, and extended into the environment, so that the mind, and the “self,” are not confined to our brains or our bodies but are rather qualities of our engagement with the world around us.   Thus, our encounters with the world participate in the making of our minds.  We need to think not just about the relationship between media and the mind, but rather about the roles that media play in our minds.


Special Presentation:

AIDS Reruns: (Re)Encountering the Past in the Age of Ongoing
Juhasz and Kerr

Alexandra Juhasz and Theodore Kerr are proposing an encounter at the USBC Media Fields Conference centered on the content and process of two longform published dialogues between Juhasz and Kerr on the media ecology of HIV / AIDS. Their conversation will primarily focus on ways that early responses to HIV/AIDS are currently being (re)encountered through moving image, exhibition, and other media, while also exploring encounters they had with each other to write about HIV/AIDS across generation, and other markers of difference.

Positing that there is an AIDS crisis revisitation within works that is exploring early responses to HIV/AIDS, Juhasz and Kerr explore, evaluate and trouble ways that media and history around the ongoing epidemic is being created, disseminated and activated. They argue work created and shared around HIV/AIDS is part of an ecosystem in which film, exhibitions, visual art, and everyday practices influence each other across time, audience, medium, genre, and urgencies, raising questions such as:

  • What can be understood about culture that looks to the past yet does not seem to have an allegiance or understanding of the history being explored and/or the current state of HIV/AIDS?
  • How do people across gender, race, class, sero status, generation, and geographic locations engage with both historical and contemporary work about the ongoing crisis?
  • What do people know about HIV based on how the past is being represented and received?
  • How can encounters with the past improve our life chances?

From different yet connected starting points, Juhasz and Kerr explore these questions and ideas generated from their responses. Not falling into false binaries, the pair open up the discussion for further complexities to emerge. What good is an encounter if it does not lead to a journey?