Arthemis is pleased to present his
Networking A/V lecture series
John Caldwell (UCLA)
“Para-Industry, Stress Aesthetics”
What does it mean to critically theorize a television industry: (a) that critically theorizes itself as part of industrial practice; and (b) that “pays” its employees with critical and cultural rather than purely economic capital? In this lecture, Caldwell maps the outlines of what he terms “Para-Industry.” This term refers to the ubiquitous industrial and corporate fields that surround and complicate any access to what we traditionally regard as our primary objects of media research—messages, texts, forms, institutions, and even audiences. After introducing and sketching the parameters of the notion of the para-industrial buffer, Caldwell details the counter-intuitive logic (embedded within the para-industry) of “stress aesthetics” as it is articulated broadly by producers and justified economically by executives. The paper then considers this question: if physical production is as frantic, unstable, competitive, and exploitative as has been described, how and why do vast numbers of workers continue to ignore labor oversupplies and hyper-competition in order to aspire or seek creative work within such a stressed world?