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Cinema of Exploration


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Table of Contents

Chapter One: Cinema of Exploration: An Adventurous Film Practice and Theory James Leo Cahill and Luca Caminati Part I: Explorations in Perception Chapter Two: Chasing Bugs: Microbial Frontiers in American Epidemiological Documentaries, 1946-60 Bishnupriya Ghosh Chapter Three: Through the Body with Laser Gun and Camera: Fantastic Voyage and the Cinema of Exploration Oliver Gaycken Chapter Four: Outer and Inner Space: Psychedelia and Selected Representations of Altered Consciousness in Experimental Cinema Juan Carlos Kase Chapter Five: Weird Loops: Climate Change, Drone Cinema, and the Work of Mourning Katherine Groo Part II: Cinema of Expedition Chapter Six: Chance Wrote the Screenplay, Reality Directed the Film: The Exploration Films of Hans Hass Vinzenz Hediger Chapter Seven: Environmental Aesthetics: Tracing a Latent Image from Early Safari Films to Contemporary Art Cinema Inga Pollmann Chapter Eight: Travelling the World with a Smile: James Fitzpatrick's Traveltalks Liz Czach Chapter Nine: Aquariums, Diving Equipment, and the Undersea Films of John Ernest Williamson Jonathan Crylen Chapter Ten: Sounding Travel Documentary in Wartime China: The Dual Journey of Long Live the Nation Ling Zhang Part III: Narratives of Exploration Chapter Eleven: Exploring Marker's Cuba: Shivers and Rhythms Nora M. Alter Chapter Twelve: Like a Mobile, Living Archive: Antonioni the Traveler Marco Dalla Gassa Chapter Thirteen: Adventure Cinema in the Age of Austerity: The case of Miguel Gomes' Arabian Nights (2015) Trilogy Malini Guha Chapter Fourteen: Amazon Cinema: Vegetal Storytelling Catherine Russell Part IV. Cinema of Exploitation Chapter Fifteen: Mondo Exotica: Ethnography, Eros, and Exploitation in Italian Cinema of the 1960s and 1970s Clarissa Clo Chapter Sixteen: From Pierre Perrault to Rolf De Heer: Auteur Cinema and the Poetic Exploration of Indigenous Lands and Identities Karine Bertrand Chapter Seventeen: Prospecting: Cinema and the Exploration of Extraction Brian R. Jacobson Coda Chapter Eighteen: Speculations on Film/theory and the Trope of Exploration Bhaskar Sarkar

About the Author

James Leo Cahill is Director of the Cinema Studies Institute and Associate Professor of Cinema Studies and French at the University of Toronto. He is author of Zoological Surrealism: The Nonhuman Cinema of Jean Painleve (2019) and general editor of Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture. Luca Caminati is Professor of Film Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. He is the author of Orientalismo eretico. Pier Paolo Pasolini e il cinema del Terzo Mondo (2007), Il cinema come happening: Pasolini's Primitivism and the Sixties Italian Art Scene (2010), and Roberto Rossellini documentarista. Una cultura della realta (2012), along with many articles and book chapters on Italian cinema and media. He is currently serving as associate editor for the journal Italica.


Through an expansive optic and re-imagining of film's deep imbrication with exploration, this rich collection views cinema and exploration as mutually informing and vital allies in understanding twentieth century human history and our current crisis in the age of the Anthropocene. The authors productively take up the charge of discerning cinema in diverse contexts of exploration and critically engage with how adventure itself has long been a driving force and useful metaphor for cinema and/as epistemological practice.

Alison Griffiths, Distinguised Professor, The City University of New York

A remarkable transdisciplinary anthology exploring cinematic image-work in relation to issues of exploration, travel, colonial visual culture, experimental ethnographic film, and more broadly in relation to human encounters with intensive natural phenomena that confounds those who observe and participate in them. This collection will inspire and be useful to scholars in the human sciences, particularly media and visual anthropologists, who are willing to experiment with the new capacities of the cinematic.

Tarek Elhaik, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Davis and author of The Incurable-Image: Curating Post-Mexican Film and Media Arts.

In this intellectually rich set of essays, cinematic practices and ideologies of exploration are brought into illuminating contact. The authors in this collection read the spectacles of the spectacular that lie at the heart of 'cinemas of exploration' through the material circumstances and exploitations of their production. In so doing, the politics of 'exploration' are laid bare and placed in productive tension with the promises of enlightenment or adventure that such films tend to offer.

Lisa Messeri, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Yale University

Exploration is cinema's greatest, its most singular and enduring attribute, and so there is no overstating the importance of this stunning anthology. It takes a Fantastic Voyage through astonishing episodes that illuminate cinema's 'Copernican vocation' to displace humans by exploring the befuddling world in which we co-exist. Cahill and Caminati lay out a shrewd itinerary leading into the 'body' of the book where, chapter after chapter, we discover how cinema has evolved to bring within its purview unimaginable inner and outer worlds. As the probing coda proclaims, cinema is still mid-journey. Explore this book and you will explore a medium and an art that is as alive today as it was for Lumiere and Melies.

Dudley Andrew, author of What Cinema Is!

What an adventure! Cinema of Exploration productively unsettles any claim that the world pictured is a world known much less mastered. This volume offers surprising readings of a range of genres and terrains, from "pith-hat" safari movies to the microscopic, psychedelic, and atmospheric cinema of cosmonauts, aquanauts and even "psychonauts." A critique of the imperial projects underwriting exploration and environmental degradation, the essays collected here unfold a history and theory of cinema that is curious about the remote, unseen, overlooked, and as-yet unknown possibilities of both cinema and our marvelous, fragile world.

Jennifer Fay, author of Inhospitable World: Cinema in the Time of the Anthropocene Cinema studies once overlooked such primary material, but this collection's assembly of a roster of films formerly considered "minor" exemplifies a welcome opening up of the field to media in its fuller range of influence... The book joins together questions that cut across the often separate philosophical domains of ideology and ontology: Does exploration in cinema always embody a power dynamic, and is it a description of an attitude inscribed by the apparatus itself?... Cinema of Exploration sifts through the utopian promises, challenges, and dead ends of the medium's eventful first century and a quarter. In taking on this job, the book scouts out new paths for envisioning the role of the moving image as we pivot toward uncertain futures. Jennifer Lynn Peterson for Critical Inquiry, July 2021 ... a stimulating assortment of essays that expand conversations about art and instructional films, experimental "psychonauts" and scuba documentarists, aestheticanalysis, and reception studies... Editors James Leo Cahill and Luca Caminati bring an expansive approach to this perennial topic by taking adventurous media practices... and looking at them in an array of contexts, through varied, interdisciplinary methodologies. Mariana Johnson for Film Quarterly, 2021

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