Cultural philosopher Slavoj Zizek: speaking on rubbish and ecology -
'This is where we should start feeling at 'home'
Zizek's popular excerpt from Examined Life (150 000 youtube views)
from the 2008 documentary on contemporary philosophy directed by Astra Taylor
At the end of this month I will be in the very fortunate position to be presenting my preliminary work to date on ‘the ecocidal eye in cinema’ at the 4th American Society of Literature, Environment and Culture – Australia-New Zealand group (ASLEC-ANZ) Biennial Conference on the theme of Regarding the Earth: Ecological Vision in Word and Image in Melbourne, 31 Aug-2 Sept 2012. See conference timetable here
Surprisingly it is in the small field of Literary theory that fledgling cinematic ecocriticism has been mainly supported and developed, rather than in film or media studies, although green scholarship in these areas is now also developing – it is all surprisingly small and very recent in cinema. Literary theory spearheads ecophilosophy and ecocriticism as Romantic Literature has been the main historic precursor to ecocritical thinking and ecocriticism. To a large extent, it appears that ASLE, the founding academic Literature and Environment organisation in the United States has helped support work in cinema by actively reaching out to non-literary cultural academics as well as to non-literary art practitioners. For instance I often found on examination of the authors of the few recent books on ecocriticism of cinema have acknowledged close association and support from ASLE. There is also an established journal produced by ASLE, called the International Studies in Literature and the Environment (ISLE). The film academic Scott MacDonald, who incidentally has a background in literary studies, coined the term ‘ecocinema’ in an exploratory paper Towards an ecocinema in ISLE in 2004 reviewing experimental filmmakers Andrej Zdravic and James Benning.
While the conference in Melbourne will not have a strong emphasis on cinema, other visual artists like myself will be presenting amongst eco-literary academics (I’m delighted to be finally meeting a visual art & ecology artist/ book publisher Perdita Philips who I have been aware of for sometime). I was also interested in this conference as the two keynotes presenting at key members of the founding US ASLE group, past president and Prof of English at Standford University, Ursula Heise and UK born but US based Prof Tim Morton. I have a number of their books. (more…)
Zerkalo" (Mirror), spliced together
Above: Two instances of wind from Tarkovsky's "
‘Most academic film studies professionals don’t take nature film seriously, either historically or theoretically. Indeed, there are few better indications of the educationally counterproductive gap between the humanities and the sciences’, Scott Macdonald, Adventures of Perception (2009) p. 156.
A new academic book, published by Routledge is due out in a couple of months and will add to the small field in which I’m working.
Two of the author/editors, Stephen Rust and Salma Monani are part of the US led ecomediastudies.org site which I’ve recently been asked to contribute. This upcoming title will join Paula Willoquet-Maricondi’s 2010 book Framing the World: explorations in ecocriticism and film, probably the most comprehensive book to date on the area, although Scott MacDonald, a film theorist with a literary background, had signalled attention needed to be paid to nature films in several articles in mid 2000s; he also coined the word ‘ecocinema’ in 2004. My own area, investigating experimental cinema that reference ecological perspectives, is a subset again of this new field. I expect most of the texts in the new book will be looking at feature length documentary or mainstream films. Nevertheless, its encouraging that more work is been done in this area. Key ideas of ecocriticism are coming from literary theory and only recently have been taken up by other cultural disciplines such as cinema. (more…)