CFP: Failures, Flops, and False Starts

This sounds like a terrific idea to me. I'm intrigued by a possible theoretical approach t0 the historiography of failure. Unfortunately, my thoughts are only in the beginning stages now, so I'm not sure I could work them up any time soon.

The Velvet Light Trap Call For Papers
#64, Fall 2009—Failures, Flops, and False Starts

Deadline: September 15, 2008

Histories of the moving image tend to highlight financial, critical, and popular successes: films that generated monumental revenues at the box office, television series that were acclaimed by critics and adored by audiences, technologies that revolutionized the ways in which we exhibit and consume narratives and images, etc. Yet, new media, failed or abandoned projects, hardware, institutions, businesses, or content can serve as constructive ways in which to examine oppositional discourses, alternative conceptions, failed visions and botched efforts, as they pertain to the construction, distribution, exhibition, and consumption of the moving image. By examining failures we can get a better sense of the true impact of successful projects and programs, as well as an improved understanding of marginalized or contradictory modes of production, discourse, and reception.

We welcome an inclusive definition of failures, flops, and false starts capable of illustrating not only what was and didn't work, but also what could have been. Projects that lacked funding, artistic movements or business strategies that went nowhere, and programs that never reached fruition can sometimes be more revealing than a finished product and a job well done. The category of brilliant but cancelled—or, conversely, terrible but produced nonetheless—envelopes an untold number of media products and visions, revealing insights to industrial processes of production and promotion, and cultural practices of organized protest, advocacy and activism. The losers of a format, hardware, and programming war (such as HD DVD or Beta) punctuate the economic risks of attempting technological innovation.

For every success, there are innumerable failures. The Velvet Light Trap invites submissions for a special issue on Failures, Flops, and False Starts that helps us to better understand the ways in which unsuccessful film, television, and new media projects, technologies, and strategies can improve our understanding of the haphazard, opposing, and unlikely ways in which media forms, criticism, industries, and practices have developed.

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