Adrian Ivakhiv’s ecocritical film-philosophy

Adrian Ivakhiv, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont, maintains the excellent blog immanence, where he posts regularly on “the Form, Flesh, and Flow of the World : Ecoculture, Geophilosophy, Mediapolitics” (as he puts it in the blog’s byline).

Recently, he linked to a new article of his in the open-access online journal Film-Philosophy (published by the great Open Humanities Press), in a special issue on “Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis.” Here is the abstract of Ivakhiv’s paper, which is certainly worth reading in full:

The Anthrobiogeomorphic Machine: Stalking the Zone of Cinema

This article proposes an ecophilosophy of the cinema. It builds on Martin Heidegger’s articulation of art as ‘world-disclosing,’ and on a Whiteheadian and Deleuzian understanding of the universe as a lively and eventful place in which subjects and objects are persistently coming into being, jointly constituted in the process of their becoming. Accordingly, it proposes that cinema be considered a machine that produces or discloses worlds. These worlds are, at once, anthropomorphic, geomorphic, and biomorphic, with each of these registers mapping onto the ‘three ecologies,’ in Felix Guattari’s terms, that make up the relational ontology of the world: the social, the material, and the mental or perceptual. Through an analysis of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979), I suggest that cinema ‘stalks’ the world, and that our appreciation of its potentials should similarly involve a kind of ‘stalking’ of its effects in the material, social, and perceptual dimensions of the world from which cinema emerges and to which it returns.


Film theory; film-worlds; ecocriticism; ecologies; Tarkovsky

Beyond this paper, Ivakhiv is working on a book called Ecologies of the Moving Image, which I very much anticipate reading. Indeed, in many respects, Ivakhiv seems a kindred spirit of sorts in his process-relational philosophical orientation and his endeavor to formulate a non-anthropocentric philosophy of film. With his notion that the cinema is one of the places “in which subjects and objects are persistently coming into being, jointly constituted in the process of their becoming,” Ivakhiv’s views seem largely apposite with my own film-theoretical project, which, as I summarized (in German) recently, seeks a “rapprochement between the conflicting human and nonhuman agencies inhabiting [Frankenstein] films” and the cinema in general. As I outline it in Postnaturalism: Frankenstein, Film, and the Anthropotechnical Interface, this “rapprochement […] consists […] of a recognition of the mutual articulation of experience by human and nonhuman technical agencies, whereby the affective and embodied experience of anthropotechnical transitionality is not arrested and subjugated to human dominance, but approached experimentally as a joint production of our postnatural future” (24). Ivakhiv’s proposal “that cinema be considered a machine that produces or discloses worlds” seems, in my opinion, to point in the same – experimental and postphenomenological – direction.

Steven Shaviro on “the post-cinematic”

Steven Shaviro, probably best known for his now-classic book The Cinematic Body (an early but still one of the best explorations of the meaning of Deleuzo-Guattarian theory for embodied spectatorship; and one that Shaviro himself has critically reconsidered from a distance of 15 years in an essay called The Cinematic Body Redux”), has recently published a book entitled Post-Cinematic Affect (Zero Books, 2010), which is summarized, on the publisher’s website, like this:

Post-Cinematic Affect is about what it feels like to live in the affluent West in the early 21st century. Specifically, it explores the structure of feeling that is emerging today in tandem with new digital technologies, together with economic globalization and the financialization of more and more human activities. The 20th century was the age of film and television; these dominant media shaped and reflected our cultural sensibilities. In the 21st century, new digital media help to shape and reflect new forms of sensibility. Movies (moving image and sound works) continue to be made, but they have adopted new formal strategies, they are viewed under massively changed conditions, and they address their spectators in different ways than was the case in the 20th century. The book traces these changes, focusing on four recent moving-image works: Nick Hooker’s music video for Grace Jones’ song Corporate Cannibal; Olivier Assayas’ movie Boarding Gate, starring Asia Argento; Richard Kelly’s movie Southland Tales, featuring Justin Timberlake, Dwayne Johnson, and other pop culture celebrities; and Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s Gamer.

Now, over at his wonderfully named and always intriguing blog The Pinocchio Theory (which you can also always find in the handy “blogroll” on the right-hand side of this very blog), Shaviro has begun outlining the meaning of “the post-cinematic” as it appears in that book. This is what Shaviro says about the purpose of his theorization of “the post-cinematic”:

The particular question that I am trying to answer, within this much broader field, is the following: What happens to cinema when it is no longer a cultural dominant, when its core technologies of production and reception have become obsolete, or have been subsumed within radically different forces and powers? What is the role of cinema, if we have now gone beyond what Jonathan Beller calls “the cinematic mode of production”? What is the ontology of the digital, or post-cinematic, audiovisual image, and how does it relate to Bazin’s ontology of the photographic image? How do particular movies, or audiovisual works, reinvent themselves, or discover new powers of expression, precisely in a time that is no longer cinematic or cinemacentric? As Marshall McLuhan long ago pointed out, when the media environment changes, so that we experience a different “ratio of the senses” than we did before, older media forms don’t necessarily disappear; instead, they are repurposed. We still make and watch movies, just as we still broadcast on and listen to the radio, and still write and read novels; but we produce, broadcast, and write, just as we watch, listen, and read, in different ways than we did before.

The full thought-provoking post, which is highly recommended, can be found here. Enjoy!

Comics – Intermedial & Interdisziplinär

“Comics – Intermedial & Interdisziplinär”
9.-10.12.2011 in den Räumlichkeiten von Situation Kunst /
Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Ein interdisziplinäres Symposium zur Förderung und Vernetzung der

Seit seinen Anfängen ist der Comic intermediale Verbindungen mit anderen Medien/medialen Formen eingegangen. Dabei haben sich nicht nur Medien, wie z.B. Film oder Fernsehen regelmäßig vom Comic inspirieren lassen. Auch der Comic selbst ist im Laufe seiner Entwicklung sowohl auf inhaltlicher als auch auf formal-ästhetischer Ebene immer wieder von anderen Medien beeinflusst worden. Im Rahmen des zweitägigen Symposiums wird der Forschungsgegenstand Comic aus unterschiedlichen
wissenschaftlichen Perspektiven (Medienwissenschaft, Gender- und Queer
Studies, Literaturwissenschaft, Kulturwissenschaft, Kunstgeschichte
etc.) heraus betrachtet und im Hinblick auf seinen intermedialen Kontext – also mit Blick auf die Frage nach dem Comic in den Medien und den Medien im Comic – beleuchtet. Aufgrund der Integration von Text und Bild stellt der Comic bereits in seiner grundlegenden Beschaffenheit ein intermediales Phänomen dar, daher wird nicht nur das intermediale
Potential des Comics im Verbund mit anderen Medien, sondern auch der
intermediale Charakter des Comics selbst Gegenstand des Symposiums sein.

Bei dem zweitägigen Symposium handelt es sich um eine Kooperation des
Instituts für Medienwissenschaft, dem Lehrstuhl für American Studies und dem Lehrstuhl für Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaften der
Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

Weitere Informationen zum Comic Symposium sind online unter verfügbar.

Anmeldungen zum Symposium sind bis zum 20.11.2011 möglich.
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