Racial dimensions of screen aesthetics

Raqi Syed and Missy Molloy challenge us on the racial and colonial aspects of the increasing use of digital representations of people in film.

In our digital and virtual age, we are haunted by principles of “beauty” from both European and colonial art that are complex and fraught. As we increasingly incorporate digital representations of people into cinema, how do we account for the racial and colonial underpinnings of the technology and conventions that ground these representations? Most significantly, how can we look to mātauranga design for more equitable and future focused ways of accommodating genuinely diverse representations on screen?

Join Raqi Syed and Missy Molloy as they discuss racial dimensions of screen aesthetics from different angles. Raqi addresses these questions with reference to her own work in visual effects and real-time immersive technologies, while Missy tackles the controversial question of whether women of colour have a place in Jane Campion’s celebrated screen feminism.

This lecture prompts the audience to ask where they stand on these issues.


  • Raqi Syed, Programme Director and Senior Lecturer in Master of Design Technology, School of Design Innovation at Te Herenga Waka–Victoria University of Wellington
  • Dr Missy Molloy, Programme Director and Senior Lecturer in Film at Te Herenga Waka–Victoria University of Wellington


Raqi Syed is a writer, visual effects designer, and researcher. She is co-director of the award-winning film experience MINIMUM MASS. Raqi has worked as a visual effects artist on a number of feature films for Disney Animation Studios and Weta Digital. In 2020 her VR work was exhibited at the Tribeca, Cannes, Annecy, and Venice International Film Festivals. She is a 2018 Sundance and Turner Fellow, and a 2020 Ucross Fellow. In 2017, The Los Angeles Times pegged Raqi for a list of 100 people who can help solve Hollywood’s diversity problem.

Dr Missy Molloy is a programme director and senior lecturer in film. She specialises in women’s, alternative and activist cinemas, with recent publications addressing long takes in films directed by Indigenous women, maternal ambivalence and fetal imagery in Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake, and Rūrangi as an illustration of LGBTIQ, Indigenous, and environmental production (Journal of Environmental Media). She co-edited ReFocus: The Films of Susanne Bier (Edinburgh University Press 2018). Screening the Posthuman, which she co-wrote with Pansy Duncan and Claire Henry, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

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