Lutz Koepnick is the Max Kade Foundation Chair of German Studies and Professor of Cinema and Media Arts at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he also chairs the Department of German, Russian and East European Studies and serves as the director of the joint-Ph.D. program in Comparative Media Analysis and Practice (CMAP). He received a Joint-Ph.D. in 1994 in German Studies and Humanities from Stanford University.
Koepnick has published widely on film, media theory, visual culture, new media aesthetic, and intellectual history from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. He is the author Resonant Matter: Sound, Art, and the Promise of Hospitality (2021); Fitzcarraldo (2019); Michael Bay: World Cinema in the Age of Populism (2018); The Long Take: Art Cinema and the Wondrous (2017); On Slowness: Toward an Aesthetic of the Contemporary (2014); Framing Attention: Windows on Modern German Culture (2007); The Dark Mirror: German Cinema between Hitler and Hollywood (2002); Walter Benjamin and the Aesthetics of Power (1999); and of Nothungs Modernität: Wagners Ring und die Poesie der Politik im neunzehnten Jahrhundert (1994). Koepnick is the co-author of Windows | Interface (2007), [Grid ‹ › Matrix] (2006), and the co-editor of various anthologies on ambiguity in contemporary art and theory, the culture of neoliberalism, German cinema, sound culture, new media aesthetics, aesthetic theory, and questions of exile. His current projects include a book on the aesthetics of interference.
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When it was released in 1982, Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo was widely criticized for its demanding use of human and natural resources as well as its director’s uncompromising aesthetic vision. Critics and scholars saw little difference between the film’s protagonist’s obsession with hauling a ship over a mountain in the Amazon and Herzog’s own mode of cinematic production and storytelling. And yet Fitzcarraldo stands out as one of the defining moments of New German Cinema and, as the years pass, continues to raise new questions about the relation of film and society, art and nature, progress and subjectivity, the known and the unknown. This book revisits Herzog’s tale of operatic entrepreneurialism from a decisively contemporary standpoint. It draws on recent writing on the Anthropocene to probe the relationship of art, civilization, and the natural world in Fitzcarraldo. It discusses the role of opera and music in Herzog’s Amazon spectacle. And it brings into play the development of Herzog’s own career as a filmmaker over the last few decades to offer a fresh look at this by-now classical contribution to twentieth-century German film art.
German Film Classics
Camden House, Setpember 2019
49 colour illustrations
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An impassioned argument for the cinematic long take as a compelling source of wonder and a unifying force of contemporary art.
In The Long Take, Lutz Koepnick posits extended shot durations as a powerful medium for exploring different modes of perception and attention in our fast-paced world of mediated stimulations. Grounding his inquiry in the long takes of international filmmakers such as Béla Tarr, Tsai Ming-liang, Abbas Kiarostami, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Michael Haneke, Koepnick reveals how their films evoke wondrous experiences of surprise, disruption, enchantment, and reorientation. He proceeds to show how the long take has come to thrive in diverse artistic practices across different media platforms: from the work of photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto to the screen-based installations of Sophie Calle and Tacita Dean, from experimental work by Francis Alÿs and Janet Cardiff to durational images in contemporary video games.
Deeply informed by film and media theory, yet written in a fluid and often poetic style, The Long Take goes far beyond recent writing about slow cinema. In Koepnick’s account, the long take serves as a critical hallmark of international art cinema in the twenty-first century. It invites viewers to probe the aesthetics of moving images and to recalibrate their sense of time. Long takes unlock windows toward the new and unexpected amid the ever-mounting pressures of 24/7 self-management.
University of Minnesota Press, December 2017
$27.00 paper ISBN 978-0-8166-9588-1
$108.00 cloth ISBN 978-0-8166-9584-3
288 pages, 42 b&w photos, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
If size counts for anything, Michael Bay towers over his contemporaries. His summer-defining event films involve extraordinary production costs and churn enormous box office returns. His ability to mastermind breathtaking spectacles of action, mayhem, and special effects continually push the movie industry as much as the medium of film toward new frontiers. Lutz Koepnick engages the bigness of works like Armageddon and the Transformers movies to explore essential questions of contemporary filmmaking and culture. Combining close analysis and theoretical reflection, Koepnick shows how Bay’s films, knowingly or not, address profound issues about what it means to live in the late twentieth- and early twenty-first centuries. According to Koepnick’s astute readings, no one eager to understand the state of cinema today can ignore Bay’s work. Bay’s cinema of world-making and transnational reach not only exemplifies interlocking processes of cultural and economic globalization. It urges us to contemplate the future of moving images, of memory, matter, community, and experience, amid a time of rampant political populism and ever-accelerating technological change. An eye-opening look at one of Hollywood’s most polarizing directors, Michael Bay illuminates what energizes the films of this cinematic and cultural force.
“This book is for everyone who loved the film classes they took in college, then watched Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and thought ‘I give up.’ Lutz Koepnick’s study of Michael Bay is a clear-eyed assessment of the oeuvre of Hollywood’s hyperkinetic trash-virtuoso, but it is also a joyful demonstration of what film criticism and film theory can accomplish when they don’t capitulate before the new cinema of confetti-cuts and incessant franchise service. The thinking person’s guide to Bayhem.”–Adrian Daub, coauthor of The James Bond Songs: Pop Anthems of Late Capitalism
University of Illinois Press, February 2018
$ 22.00 paper ISBN 0252083202
$ 99.00 cloth ISBN 0252041550
On Slowness: Toward an Aesthetic of the Contemporary
Columbia University Press
Cloth, 336 pages, 44 b&w illustrations
$35.00 / £24.00
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