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Ecologies of the Moving Image - Cinema, Affect, Nature

Ecologies of the Moving Image

Cinema, Affect, Nature

by Adrian J. Ivakhiv
Subjects Cultural Studies, Film And Media, Environmental Studies
Series Environmental Humanities Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554589050, 435 pages, July 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




This book presents an ecophilosophy of cinema: an account of the moving image in relation to the lived ecologies – material, social, and perceptual relations – within which movies are produced, consumed, and incorporated into cultural life. If cinema takes us on mental and emotional journeys, the author argues that those journeys that have reshaped our understanding of ourselves, life, and the Earth and universe. A range of styles are examined, 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, Malick, and Brakhage, to YouTube’s expanding audio-visual universe.


"This is a rich book that I feel is only beginning to reveal its significance to me."

- Niall Flynn (Univ. of Lincoln)

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

- Edie Steiner (York University)

"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

"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

"Reflecting the interdisciplinarity within environmental humanities, Ivakhiv impressively draws upon a century of film history, as well as critical scholarship from anthropology and geography to discuss an astonishing array of films, including ethnographies, wildlife films, blockbuster science fiction and action cinemas, experimental and essay films, digital cinema, documentaries, animated films, Westerns, road movies, and European art films. ... offers a timely and significant meditation on the material realities of moving images and the shared connections between humans and non-humans which surround them, to the benefit of scholars and graduate students alike."

- Rachel Webb Jekanowski (Concordia University)

"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 ve viewed as required reading for the growing ranks of ecocinema scholars."

- Bart Welling (U of North Florida)

"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 (Univ of Surrey)

"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)

"Ecologies of the Moving Image is an ambitious book, and a capacious and satisfying one. In addressing ‘the wild phantasmagoria of images’ among which we live today, Ivakhiv gives us an account that is at once systematic and brimming with rich detail. Moving-image forms both render imaginative worlds to us and help to constitute the world we live in; this book gives us a brilliant process-relational account of both of these dimensions of media experiences."

- Steven Shaviro,

"Ivakhiv, a leading light in the emerging eco-critical film studies, wraps two themes around each other, the cinema of and as ecology. His concern is with how cinema produces worlds, lives, and human subjects intricately implicated in the processes of Earth. Marrying Whitehead, Peirce, and Deleuze with eco-philosophy, Ivakhiv gives us a rich, eloquent, wide-ranging, and moving account of movement: as world, as cinema, and as hope."

- Sean Cubitt