Examining urban space in media

The social, aesthetic and technological phenomena of cities recently have served as a major source of study, said Scott Bukatman, associate professor of art and art history. But catastrophic events like the siege of Sarajevo and the destruction of the World Trade Center have drastically shifted our understanding of metropolitan existence. "A certain utopian imagination about the city becomes impossible to sustain," he said.

A symposium May 5-7 titled "Urban Trauma and the Metropolitan Imagination: The City in Contemporary Media" will bring together scholars, architects, critics, writers, filmmakers and others to talk about how recent history has changed the ways in which people think about how we inhabit urban space, Bukatman said. The conference is sponsored by the Film and Media Studies Program in the Department of Art and Art History.

Highlights of the conference will include screenings of works by two filmmakers from Sarajevo, Srdjan Vuletic and Pjer Zalica, and by San Francisco filmmaker Ernie Gehr. Comic strip artist Ben Katchor, author of The Jew of New York, will read from his work, followed by a screening of a film by Gehr, at an event called "Urban Palimpsests" beginning at 6 p.m. Friday at Cubberley Auditorium. Gehr and Katchor will discuss their work at the Friday evening event.

Participating scholars include Zhen Zhang, assistant professor, Department of Cinema Studies, New York University; Marita Sturken, associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and the Program in American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California; and Max Page, associate professor of architecture and history, University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

"It was really our intention to make this an international event," Bukatman said. "We want there to be a sense of something beyond the American city."

A conference schedule and information about special events is available online at http://www.stanford.edu/dept/art/utmi/.