The concept of perfection has enormous currency in today’s digital economy. The latest models of the smartphone, tablet, laptop, and television promise sharp, pristine images with lossless compression and a maximal likeness to reality. While Hito Steyerl has defended the “poor” or “imperfect” image as an antidote to hegemonic media structures, Baer will demonstrate that the concept of perfection itself is anything but stable or unequivocal in its meanings. Intervening in contemporary debates about “rich” and “poor” images, and “high” and “low” definition, the presentation will offer a more differentiated and historically dynamic understanding of perfection as a key concept in global film and media theory. The presentation will establish the aesthetic category of perfection as a vital site of theoretical inquiry in the present age of digital technologies and pervasive neoliberal logics.
Nicholas Baer is Assistant Professor of Media, Arts & Society at the Department of Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He received his PhD in Film & Media from UC Berkeley in 2015, with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. He was Assistant Professor of Film Studies in the Department of Arts, Culture, and Media at the University of Groningen. Before moving to the Netherlands, he was Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Humanities and Harper-Schmidt Fellow in the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago. His research examines film and contemporary digital media in relation to broader aesthetic, cultural, and philosophical debates of the modern era.