CineLab • International Seminar

Turbid Media

Esther Leslie

The seminar confronts materials that have always been around but which accrue new significances. These are materials bound into new technological environments — ones shaped by and in relation to cloud computing, touchscreens, CGI animation, Networks of Things, sub-perceptual visualising systems. Between these matters and these technologies is the human, but that is a fantasy — the human is shot through — made of and with — these matters and these technologies. In the context of the matter, from which emanates ideological and poetic significance, and the technologies, which are also idealist constructions, it is possible to produce an environment in which political aesthetics can seize the stage in the interests of critical analysis, unlike the hostile that seeps across the world, a toxically political atmosphere. The sessions range across substances or matter and their uses, histories, representations, in order to produce an understanding of the digitally saturated presence. The substances are fog, froth, foam, liquid crystal, touchscreen glass, and we may consider the history and genealogy of the device.


Esther Leslie is Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, University of London. Her books include various studies on Walter Benjamin, The Rise and Fall of Imperial Chemical Industries: Synthetics, Sensism and the Environment (2023); Liquid Crystals: The Science and Art of a Fluid Form (2016); Derelicts (2014); Synthetic Worlds: Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry (2005) and Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant Garde (2002). Work on the biopolitical economy of dairy, with Melanie Jackson, includes Deeper in the Pyramid (2018/2023). A study of anti-fascist radio pioneer Ernst Schoen (written with Sam Dolbear) appeared in 2023, titled Dissonant Waves: Ernst Schoen and Experimental Sound in the Twentieth Century.

Registration is free but limited to the number of seats available. Please send an email with a short CV to by 12.06.2024. Confirmation of registration will be sent by email. The seminar will be conducted in English.

The seminar takes place within the scope of the second edition of Problematising reality – Encounters between art and philosophy, which is the result of a partnership between CAM / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, IFILNOVA (CineLab) / FCSH / UNL and Maumaus / Lumiar Cité. This is a series of six discussion sessions and four seminars taking place at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, focusing on the moment when art and philosophy establish productive dialogues, proposing diverse approaches to contemporary thought. Each discussion session departs from a partial or full exhibition of works of art in the medium of film, accompanied by a reflection led by theorists, researchers or artists.

For further information, please contact:
Tel + 351 21 352 11 55 | |

Event supported by the Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundação para a Ciência e para a Tecnologia) of the Portuguese Ministry of Education and Science under the project UIDB/00183/2020 and UIDP/00183/2020.