I am a media theorist working at the intersection of visual studies and the history of technology. My current book project, Factory Forms, investigates the changing nature of the technologically reproduced image in the decades after World War II, when new forms of automation transformed pressrooms, film laboratories, projection booths, and television signal processing. Using close visual analysis, I show how technological changes and labor struggles reveal themselves in mass-produced images, and how such visible changes fed back into artistic production in both fine art and popular visual culture.
My primary training is in Film & Media Studies and Art History, and my methods draw on media archeology and science and technology studies. Other research interests include experimental film, media art, Marxist cultural theory, and feminist theory. My essays have appeared in diacritics, World Picture, Millennium Film Journal, and The New Inquiry.
Previously, I was a collection cataloger and registrar at Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY. Based on this experience, I love spending time in archives, and introducing students to historical collections!
- Mal Ahern, "Climate Control and Modernist Aesthetics," public recorded talk, New Views of Modernism Symposium, University of Calgary, February 2021
- Mal Ahern, "Playing with Vision: The Panoramic Shot in Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen's Riddles of the Sphinx," in On the Viewing Platform: Perspectives on the Panorama, ed. Katie Trumpener and Tim Barringer, Yale University Press 2020 Download PDF (341.71 KB)
- Mal Ahern, "Cinema's Automatisms and Industrial Automation," diacritics 46:4 (2018), 6-35
- Mal Ahern, "Trace: Six Grids and a Hypothesis," World Picture 11 (Summer 2016), worldpicturejournal.com/WP_11/Ahern_11.html
- Congratulations to the 2022-2023 Simpson Center Fellowship recipients! - December 22, 2021
- Mal Ahern awarded the Annette Kuhn Debut Essay Prize - May 13, 2020