The Media and Environment Scholarly Interest Group just won the prize for best attended business meeting at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. Or so we were informed by the SCMS interest group liaison present at the meeting.
This year’s SCMS featured what to my mind was by far the largest assemblage of panels and papers on all manner of environmental/ecological themes: analyses of filmic representations of nature, disasters and catastrophes, animals and nonhumans; theoretical excursions in ecocinema, eco-aesthetics, toxic and “energetic” media, frontier and extraction imaginaries, and more; and eco-materialist analyses of production processes, data backup systems, and other things. Some of these were sponsored by the M & E interest group; many were not.
Readers of this blog know that my recent book presents what’s essentially a Whiteheadian (and Peircian) theory of cinema. (A theory, not the theory. And when compared to something as deeply Whiteheadian in its details as, say, Donald Sherburne’s A Whiteheadian Aesthetic, mine is, at best, “inspired by Whitehead.”)
I’ve begun teaching a course on film and ecology and using my book Ecologies of the Moving Image as the main text.
Since the topic is related to the theme of this blog, and since I’ll be creating reading guides and posting links to film clips and related materials for my students, I thought I might as well share those publicly here.
Here are my introductory comments to the 2010 documentary Waste Land, delivered yesterday at the Fleming Museum in Burlington and shown in connection with the exhibition High Trash, which runs until May 19.
The following is an article I originally wrote in 1989, or maybe 1988, after seeing three films by Ukrainian poetic cinema master Yuri Illienko (a.k.a. Iurii/Yurij/Jurij Ilyenko/Ilienko/Illyenko/Il’yenko). Two of the films — A Well for the Thirsty and Eve of Kupalo Night, or St. John’s Eve — had languished unseen under Soviet censorship for some twenty years. They are screening this coming week at New York’s Lincoln Center.
My paper for this year’s Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, coming up next month in Boston, will focus on the two films that got a lot of side-by-side attention at last year’s Cannes festival, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. Since a few of my favorite bloggers have also discussed them side by side, I thought I’d share my preliminary thoughts about them here.
The two films play a key role in the final chapter of my (forthcoming) Ecologies of the Moving Image, but as I’m still thinking these themes through, I will be interested in responses I get at the SCMS (or here).
At bottom I am speaking of nothing other than a cinema capable of inventing a new grammar each time it goes from one world to the next, capable of producing a unique emotion before every thing, every animal, every plant, simply by modifying the parameters of space and time. But this implies a constant practice of both attention and detachment, an ability to enter into the act of filming and return an instant afterward to passive contemplation. In short, a cinema capable of accounting, above all, for the varieties of experience in the sensible world. Easily said….
– Raúl Ruiz, Poetics of Cinema (Éditions Dis Voir, 2005), pp. 89-90
I just caught up with the news that Raúl Ruiz died this past week.
The first half of the article is an early version of the paper I gave at the recent Moving Environments conference, which encompassed material from the first two chapters of my forthcoming book Ecologies of the Moving Image. While the Film-Philosophy version is several months old now, it is the best statement published to date of my film-philosophy, which is expanded on at great length in the book. The article’s second half features an extended treatment of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker.