TYL Bio Fall 2012

Thomas Levin joined the faculty at Princeton in 1990 following graduate study in art history and philosophy at Yale University and after a year in Los Angeles as a fellow at the J. Paul Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities. His teaching and scholarship range from the history of aesthetic theory and Frankfurt School cultural theory to the history and theory of media (archaeologies of vision, Early German Cinema, Weimar Cinema, New German Cinema, rhetoric of new media, rhetorics of surveillance). His work on questions of aesthetics, technology, and sound grew out of his research on metronomes, gramophones, and the prehistory of acoustic inscription, as well as his activities as associate editor of The Musical Quarterly (where he was for many years responsible for the section Institutions, Industries, and Technologies of Music). A former fellow at the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften (Vienna) and at the Collegium Budapest/Institute for Advanced Study (Budapest), in 1999 Levin was chosen by the Dutch Ministry of Culture to be "curator-in-residence" at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, where he developed a project entitled "Celluloid Rembrandtiana" that investigated the dynamics of cultural nationalism and mass media through a program of over a dozen films on Rembrandt (1920 to 1999) which was subsequently shown at the Staedel Museum in Frankfurt/Main, at the Arsenal Kino in Berlin, and in 2005 at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. During the academic year 2000-01, which he spent in Germany as the academic director of the Berlin Consortium for German Studies at the FU-Berlin, Levin completed a study of the origins of synthetic sound in the late 1920s, and an analysis of some theoretical issues posed by the advent of digital imaging. He also curated a major international exhibition entitled "CTRL [SPACE]: Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother" which was on view at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) in Karlsruhe through late February 2002.  Besides a number of further publication and curatorial projects related to his research on the aesthetic politics of surveillance --including "Anxious Omniscience" at the Princeton University Art Musuem and "9/11 + 1: The Perplexities of Security" at Brown University's Watson Center-- Levin is also working on two small books, one growing out of his Rembrandt Media project and the other on the film-theoretical cinema of Guy Debord and the Situationist International. 

Levin spent the academic year 2004-2005 on sabbatical leave as a senior scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.  In November 2005 he organized a one-day conference at the Louvre Museum in Paris entitled "Photographie, Prison, Pouvoir: Politiques de l'Image Carcérale" which re-examined the history of what Levin calls the "carceral image" in the wake of Abou Ghraib.  More recently, Levin curated a small show (drawn from his collection of the work of the Situationist International) entitled "'The Arts of the Future will be radical transformations of situations, or they will be nothing': Guy Debord Cineaste" at the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia.

Most recently Levin spent the academic year 2011-2012 as Senior Fellow at the Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie (IKKM) at the Bauhaus Universität Weimar where he was working on a study of digital video compression algorithm hacking.  Winner of the Einstein Prize, Levin has also been an Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School for Literary Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin since November 2010, where he is directing an ongoing research project on the archaeology of voice mail.