I’ll be giving the following talk next Wednesday, February 6, at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.

It’s part of the series Where Are We Going, Walt Whitman? An Ecosophical Roadmap for Artists and Other Futurists.

(The series looks incredible. I wish I could be there for all the other talks and events.)

Living in the Age of the World Motion Picture: Toward an Ecosophy of the Moving Image

Philosopher Martin Heidegger characterized the modern world as the “age of the world picture,” an era when the world itself became conquered by humanity as a picture or representation set fully and clearly before our gaze.

In the 1960s, the first images of the Earth from space delivered a glimpse of a world picture that was global and ecological, but that also suggested humanity’s domination both of the earth (today) and of outer space (tomorrow). Fifty years later, we have not colonized other planets, but we might speak instead of the “age of the world motion picture,” an era when our colonization extends both to imaginary planets (like Avatar‘s Pandora) and to our very psyches and souls, and where we see both our world and our selves in turbulent and uncontrollable motion –- on screens around the globe.

The moving image has been with us just over a century, but over that time it seems the world itself has come to move faster and faster all around us. This talk will provide glimpses across that history, in its evolution from the first motion picture shorts to epics like Avatar (2009) and The Tree of Life (2011), and to the proliferating liveliness of YouTube and its many digital relatives. Like Charles Darwin’s image of nature as an ever branching bush, a “tangled bank” so “interesting to contemplate,” cinema’s branching bush continues to become ever more interesting to contemplate.

For cineaste and philosopher Gilles Deleuze, it was cinema that provided the greatest resource for reviving our lost “belief in this world.” How is cinema faring today, on the cusp of a digital era that heightens the speed of life in every direction –- through the uncertainties of global hyperfinance, the turbulence of cultural identity clashes and looming ecological collapses, and the rapid mutations of all manner of image, representation, spectacle and simulacrum?

I will argue that the metaphysics most adequate for grasping the liveliness of this world of the moving image is a metaphysics of relational process — an aesthetics, ethics, and ecologics built on the insights of Charles S. Peirce, Alfred North Whitehead, and Gilles Deleuze.



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