Nature in Motion: Cinematic Ecologies and Environments

Nature in Motion: Cinematic Ecologies and Environments

St Andrews, Scotland, 20.-21. February 2014

8th NECS Graduate Workshop
Hosted by the Department of Film Studies, University of St Andrews
20-21 February 2014

Call for Papers

At the end of the nineteenth century, one critic remarked that, in film, we are able to see “nature caught in the act.” Indeed, cinema and nature seem linked in powerful and complex ways. From proto-cinematic applications in the field of biological motion studies and contemporary visualizations of climate models, to popular documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and more experimental work such as Leviathan (2012), the moving image continues to profoundly shape how we see and understand nature and the natural world. Furthermore, the cinema manifests a provocative paradox: it is a supremely artificial phenomena, unimaginable apart from the modern scientific and technological advances that have enabled the almost-total domination of nature by human activity. Nevertheless, cinematic representations can produce what are arguably the most successfully ‘naturalistic’ images available to the plastic arts. Moreover, the cinema itself interacts with a network of other technologies of communication and representation--a veritable media ecosystem as complex as any found in nature.

As both these media and our planet undergo rapid changes in the twenty-first century, the relationship between them, and indeed, between the ecosphere and the human techno-social sphere, calls out for new practical approaches and integrated theoretical understanding. How, for instance, might we understand the exhaustion of the celluloid medium in the face of new digital cinematic technologies in parallel with the depletion of the Earth’s resource reserves and the call for new alternative energy technologies? What does the cinema’s replacement of physical reality with virtual, computer-generated, imagery suggest about our current relationship to the material world?

NECS invites doctoral candidates and early-career researchers to submit proposals for contributions addressing these and related topics, including, but not limited to:

Theoretical Issues:
Nature and classical film theory (Bazin, Benjamin, Kracauer, etc.)
Contemporary cinematic ecocriticism
Cinema and ecosophy (Heidegger and “the world picture”, Næss and ‘Deep Ecology’, etc.)
Media ecology: Spaces of cinema exhibition (expanded cinema and environmental technologies, etc.)

Representational Issues:
Cinema and geological time, landscape, or animal/non-human performers
Special effects and the cinematic sublime
Comparative studies of environmental content in commercial cinema versus the avant-garde
Disaster films and ecological crises
Documentary rhetoric and environmental activism

Practical Issues:
Film production and its environmental impact
Cinema as tool for executing or communicating scientific/environmental research
The moving image’s application in environmental/life sciences

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Submissions deadline: December 31th, 2013

Please address abstracts (300-500 words) along with institutional affiliation and brief biographical note to: graduates@necs.org Notification will follow shortly thereafter.

The conference language is English.

Participants will need to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses. Travel information as well as a list of affordable hotels and other accommodation will be provided in the beginning of January.

Conference attendance is free, but valid NECS-membership is required to participate.
Participants must register with NECS at www.necs.org and pay their fee by February 1st. For the terms of NECS membership, please also refer to our website.

NECS Graduate Workshop Organizers:
Dr. Miriam De Rosa (Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Milan)
Heath Iverson, Doctoral Candidate (University of St Andrews)
Alena Strohmaier, Doctoral Candidate (Philipps-University Marburg)