John Caldwell Ehem. Senior Fellow

John Caldwell
April - August 2012


John Thornton Caldwell ist Professor für Film- und Medienwissenschaften an der University of California, Los Angeles. Zu seinen Forschungsschwerpunkten gehören die Fernsehwissenschaften, Mediengeschichte und -theorie, digitale Medien, Film- und Videoproduktion sowie alternative Medien. Neben seiner akademischen Tätigkeit arbeitet Caldwell auch als Filmemacher und führte Regie bei mehreren Dokumentarfilmen. Zu seinen wichtigsten Publikationen gehören Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film/Television, Durham/London 2008; Televisuality: Style, Crisis, and Authority in American Television, New Brunswick 1995 sowie als Herausgeber Electronic Media and Technoculture, New Brunswick 2000.

Stand: 2012

IKKM Forschungsprojekt

This research project examines two fundamental, interrelated tendencies in contemporary post-Fordist film/TV production practice. The first component of the project details: the counter-intuitive logic of “stress aesthetics” as it is articulated broadly by producers and justified economically by executives in Hollywood and abroad; and considers the extent to which stress aesthetics is “transportable” to other national and production settings. The second component of my research responds to a challenge invariably raised by the growing popularity of stress aesthetics, that is: 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? To answer these questions, the second half of the chapter charts the parameters of what might be called the invisible or “erased artistic economies of production.” With this I take a modest systems approach to understanding how the socio-professional conventions, reflexive cultural expressions, and habitual routines of production work have become de facto, valuable, parts of film and television production’s labor payment system. A range of general economic and labor practices comprises the “symbolic-payroll-system” that I am postulating here. All of these factors are allied in that they provide tangible surplus resources to productions that producers and executives never acknowledge as economic resources. The project highlights several features of the symbolic-payroll economy that function to buffer and mitigate the ugly downsides of stress aesthetics for those who work in the industry.



Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film/Television. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2008.
Televisuality: Style, Crisis, and Authority in American Television. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1995.


With Vicki Mayer and Miranda Banks: Production Studies: Cultural Studies of Film/Television Work Worlds. New York and London: Routledge, 2009.
With Anna Everett: New Media: Theories and Practices of Digitextuality. New York and London: Routledge, 2003.
Theories of the New Media: A Historical Perspective. London: Athlone/Continuum Press, 2000.
Electronic Media and Technoculture. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2000.


“Corporate and Worker Ephemera: The Industrial Promotional Surround, Paratexts and Worker Blowback”. In: Paul Grainge (ed.): Ephemeral Media: Transitory Screen Culture from Television to YouTube. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, S. 195-213.
“Worker Blowback: User-Generated, Worker Generated, and Producer-Generated Content Within Collapsing Workflows”. In: James Bennett et al. (eds.): Television as Digital Media. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011, S. 283-311.
“Prefiguring Bonus Tracks: Making-Ofs and Behind-the-Scenes as Historic Television Programming Strategies and Prototypes”. In: James Bennett and Tom Brown (eds.): Film and Television After The DVD. London: Routledge, 2009, S. 149-171.
“Cultures of Production: Studying Industry's Deep Texts, Reflexive Rituals, and Managed Self-Disclosures”. In: Jen Holt and Alisa Perren (eds.): Media Industries: History, Theory, and Method. Oxford: Blackwell, 2009, S. 199-212.