Public Event

The Empire of Effects: Industrial Light and Magic and the Rendering of Reality
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Julie Turnock
Department of Media & Cinema Studies, CAS Associate 2017-18


This presentation traces Industrial Light and Magic’s trajectory to becoming the most dominant effects company through the 1980s, setting the realism aesthetic for effects work, and then making sure it stayed that way for the next several decades. Through an industrial and aesthetic history of ILM, as well as primary source documents, interviews with practitioners and discourse analysis, Professor Turnock argues that ILM’s dominant style of effects realism in blockbuster aesthetics does not simply follow a transhistorical notion of what Stephen Prince calls “perceptual realism.” Instead, she denaturalizes ILM’s specific, historically grounded, style of effects realism to be one they developed and then promoted through cultural, economic, industrial and technological power.