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Ecologies of the Moving Image

Cinema, Affect, Nature

Adrian J.Ivakhiv

Publication Year: 2013

Moving images take us on mental and emotional journeys, over the course of which we and our worlds undergo change. This is the premise of Ecologies of the Moving Image, which accounts for the ways cinematic moving images move viewers in ways that reshape our understanding of ourselves, of life, and of the Earth and universe.

This book presents an ecophilosophy of the cinema: an account of the moving image in relation to its lived ecologies—the material, social, and perceptual relations within which movies are produced, consumed, and incorporated into cultural life. Cinema, Adrian Ivakhiv argues, lures us into its worlds, but those worlds are grounded in a material and communicative Earth that supports them, even if that supporting materiality withdraws from visibility. Ivakhiv examines the geographies, visualities, and anthropologies—relations of here and there, seer and seen, us and them, human and inhuman—found across a range of styles and genres, from ethnographic and wildlife documentaries, westerns and road movies, sci-fi blockbusters, and eco-disaster films to the experimental and art films of Tarkovsky, Herzog, Greenaway, Malick, Dash, and Brakhage, to YouTube’s expanding audio-visual universe.

Through its process-relational account of cinema, drawn from philosophers including Whitehead, Peirce, and Deleuze, the book boldly enriches our understanding of film and visual media.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Series: Environmental Humanities


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

The world around us contains a wild phantasmagoria of images. Put more provocatively: the world around us is a wild phantasmagoria of images. We live and move in a world that swirls with tempestuous currents made of a kind of audiovisual image-substance. ...

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pp. xi-xii

Parts of this book have been presented at numerous conferences and in teaching and speaking venues, and segments have appeared in books and in journals, but all of these have been modified, some extensively, for this publication. Portions of the first two chapters appeared in “The Anthrobiogeomorphic Machine: Stalking the Zone of Cinema,” ...

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1. Introduction: Journeys into the Zone of Cinema

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pp. 1-30

We live in a visual world, a world dominated by technologies that have given us the clearest, starkest, and most seemingly objective picture of the universe ever known to earthly life. To an extent never before encountered, we know what things look like. ...

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2. Ecology, Morphology, Semiosis: A Process-Relational Account of the Cinema

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pp. 31-68

In an influential essay on the politics of environmental media imagery, cultural theorist Andrew Ross distinguished between “images of ecology” and “the ecology of images.” The first category includes the shopworn clichés that populate the modern environmental imaginary: ...

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3. Territory: The Geomorphology of the Visible

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pp. 69-140

Films create worlds: they lay out a certain set of relations defining what is given, what is possible, who the actors are that enact the possible and make it real, and the nature and character of the background against which their actions take place. This chapter deals with the background and context, the given against which, or in front of which, the action happens. ...

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4. Encounter: First Contact, Utopia, and the Becoming of Another

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pp. 141-192

I have argued that cinema’s world-making capacity is distinguishable into three registers: the geomorphic, the biomorphic, and the anthropomorphic, with the second being a vibrant middle-ground in which the first and the third are actively separated from each other. ...

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5. Anima Moralia: Journeys across Frontiers

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pp. 193-252

Expanding on a note in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s late writings, film phenomenologist Vivian Sobchack writes that “more than any other medium of human communication, the moving picture makes itself sensuously and sensibly manifest as the expression of experience by experience. ...

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6. Terra and Trauma: The Geopolitics of the Real

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pp. 253-326

It is time to recapitulate the argument made so far. The universe, I have argued, is best thought of as a concatenation of events or moments of experience. In the specific experience of watching a film, we, its viewers, are drawn into the world of that film. We are taken on a journey into a particular film-world. ...

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Afterword: Digital Futures in a Biosemiotic World

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pp. 327-340

As I write, a video shot by a Chinese security camera showing a two-year-old girl being hit and run over by a truck, followed by several passersby ignoring her, has been circulating across television and computer screens around the world for a few days. Watching the video, I feel myself descend, rapidly, into a pit of momentary emotional despair, ...

Appendix: Doing Process-Relational Media Analysis

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pp. 341-346


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pp. 347-402


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pp. 403-418

E-ISBN-13: 9781554589067
E-ISBN-10: 1554589061
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554589050

Page Count: 435
Illustrations: 8 b/w
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Environmental Humanities
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OCLC Number: 816764481
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Ecologies of the Moving Image

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Motion pictures--Social aspects.
  • Motion pictures--Psychological aspects.
  • Motion pictures--Philosophy.
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