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Ecologies of the Moving Image

Cinema, Affect, Nature

By Adrian J. Ivakhiv
Subjects Cultural Studies, Ethnography, Film & Media, Environmental Studies
Series Environmental Humanities Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554589050, 435 pages, July 2013
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554589074, 435 pages, October 2013
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554589067, 435 pages, October 2013

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Ecologies of the Moving Image: Cinema, Affect, Nature, by Adrian J. Ivakhiv
1. Introduction: Journeys into the Zone of Cinema
Two perspectives on the visual | The cinema as cosmomorphic, or world making: geomorphic, biomorphic, and anthropomorphic | Stalker as paradigm: Tracking the cinema, stalking the psyche | The argument | Overview of the chapters
2. Ecology, Morphology, Semiosis: A Process-Relational Account of Cinema
The three ecologies of images: material, social, perceptual | Process-relational ontology | Perceptual ecologies: How we get drawn into the cinematic world | Peircean semiosis: firstness, secondness, and thirdness | Spectacle, narrativity, and signness | Scenes, episodes, and cinematic impact
3. Territory: The Geomorphology of the Visible
Geomorphism in life and in image | An initial typology | Picturing "nature": Landscape aesthetics as socio-natural production | Anchoring the filmic world | Staking claims and territorializing identities: Making the West | Dovzhenko's cinematic pantheism | Nature, holism, and the eco-administrative state | Industry, existential landscapes, and the firstness of things | Post-westerns, pantheism, and the ecological sublime | Kinetic landscapes, the exhilaration of movement, and the differentiation of space | Cinematic tourism, object fetishism, and the global landscape | Enframing the world, or expanding perception? | "Burn but his books": Deconstructing the gaze from both ends
4. Encounter: First Contact, Utopia, and the Becoming of Another
The ethnographic paradigm | Nanook/Allakariallak and the two-way gaze | King Kong's imperial gaze: From ethnographic to cinematic spectacle | Upriver journeys, hearts of darkness, and contact zones | Beyond first contact | Cinematic holism, auto-ethnography, and visual sovereignty | From the deconstruction of reality to its reflexive reconstruction | Green identities: images of choice, hope, struggle, and community
5. Anima Moralia: Journeys Across Frontiers
Pointing, seeing, gazing | Animating the image, imaging the animate | Writing, seeing, and faking nature | Making nature: inter-natural coproductions | Animation, plasmaticness, and Disney | Boundary traffic: seeing, being seen, and the horror of crossing over | Animal by analogy: penguins and family values | Individual crossings: Bittner's birds, Treadwell's bears | Sheer becomings: one or several types of packs | Boundary strategies: ethics of the contact zone
6. Terra and Trauma: The Geopolitics of the Real
Recapitulation of the argument | Trauma and the imagination of disaster | Strange weather, network narratives, and the traumatic event | The sublime and the Real | The eco-imaginary in post-9/11 culture | Political ecologies in three dimensions and more | Avatar's eco-apocalyptic Zone | Toward a Peircian synthesis: aesthetics, ethics, and ecologics of the image-event | Ecology, time, and the image | Ecophilosophical cinema: moving images on a moving planet
Afterword: Digital Futures in a Biosemiotic World
Appendix: Doing Process-Relational Media Analysis


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 to westerns and road movies, and from sci-fi blockbusters and eco-disaster films to the experimental and art films of Tarkovsky, Herzog, Greenaway, Malick, Dash, and Brakhage as well as YouTube’s expanding audiovisual universe.
Through its process-relational account of cinema, drawn from philosophers such as Whitehead, Peirce, and Deleuze, the book boldly enriches our understanding of film and visual media.


  • Runner-up, Alanna Bondar Memorial Book Prize 2017


A capacious and authoritative ecophilosophy of the cinema [...] build[s] a theoretical framework for understanding the power of cinema both to reveal 'the world' and to create new ways of seeing that world. [...] Ivakhiv's grasp of ecocinema as a body of work is truly impressive. It would be hard to find a film with any hint of an environmental theme that he does not mention and discuss.

- Joni Adamson, Arizona State University, JSRNC, 2014 January 1

Adrian Ivakhiv's Ecologies of the Moving Image: Cinema, Affect, Nature (2013) is a book that pushes beyond conventional reflections on film and environmental thought. It is, significantly, a book where 'the conceptual' and 'the material' enter into co-productive relationships in and through Ivakhiv's examination of cinema and the worlds it creates.... Its scale and scope exceed the purview of the humanities and offers far-reaching conceptual and methodological insights of interest to anyone attempting to make sense of our contemporary environmental condition.

- Harlan Morehouse, Society and Space, 2013 December 1

Adrian Ivakhiv makes a major contribution to eco-film studies and film philosophy by proposing a process-relational theory of cinemas. The first two chapters give a lengthy exposition of the book's theoretical and philosophical position. Central to a process-relational approach to cinema is the idea that a film is what a film does (48). This includes the complex interaction of several processes, from its making to its viewing to its after-effects, including its reverberation in viewer's perceptions, sensations, conversations, motivations, and attunements to one thing or another in the social and material fields that constitute the world (48). A.N. Whitehead's process philosophy and Charles Peirce's tripartite phenomenological theory of semiotics provide a complex vocabulary to understand the way cinema creates worlds.... A useful Appendix gives a bullet-pointed summary of its main points and lists pertinent questions that students can ask of a given film in order to do process-relational media analysis.... Ivakhiv's film analysis is superbly researched and insightfully synthesises existing criticism of his chosen films with his Peircian conceptual framework.... The range of reference make it indispensable for anyone interested in studying film from an ecocritical perspective.

- David Ingram, Brunel University, London, UK, Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism, 19/1, 2015 February 1

... an exquisite, complex journey through film's capacity to produce worlds [...] an intricate, historically comprehensive edition.

- Edie Steiner, York University, The Goose, 2015 February 1

The publication of Adrian J. Ivakhiv's Ecologies of the Moving Image marks an important moment in the development of ecocritical film studies. ... Ivakhiv's book surveys and synthesizes a vast number of critical perspectives and systematically and intelligently analyzes a staggering array of primary texts... Ivakhiv's book will come to be viewed as required reading for the growing ranks of ecocinema scholars.

- Bart Welling, University of North Florida, ISLE, 2015 March 1

not only develop[s] a form of ecocriticism appropriate to cinema, but several different strands of philosophy and film theory are also brought together into a structure that represents a general theory of cinema. ... There are thus two projects underway in this book: one to give an account of how the 'world-making' of cinema connects materially to the world through the 'vectors' of perception, and the other to identify and give an account of films that have historically advanced this understanding of the world as in a continuous process of flux. The two together generate three separately enjoyable products: (1) a history of classic films seen from the perspective of ecological awareness, (2) an ecological ontology of cinema, and (3) a history of ideas knitting together a significant strand of philosophy and film theory building up to an ecology of cinema.

- Helen Hughes, University of London, Film-Philosophy, 2015 January 1