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With the raising of the ground: catastrophism, geotrauma and cinema’s ecological niche

Matts, Tim and Tynan, Aidan ORCID: 2012. With the raising of the ground: catastrophism, geotrauma and cinema’s ecological niche. Design Ecologies 2 (1) , pp. 93-119. 10.1386/des.2.1.95_1

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A number of 'ecological' theories of cinema have emerged in recent years, many of which remain bound by antiquated models of figure and ground. These models typically belong to a pre-cinematic aesthetics of nature, sustaining an image of humanity uninformed by the recent prospect of species self-extinction. We hereby propose a new model for conceiving of this relation, one based upon Nick Land's post-psychoanalytic notion of geotrauma, and which suggests that the earth as ground gives rise not just to territories but moreover to processes of ungrounding. These processes are recapitulated in the human history of a traumatic relation to this (non)ground, suggesting a properly geophilosophical understanding of cinema that observes catastrophism as a genetic principle. Of consequence for any attempt to theorize human artifice and design under the present 'environmental' moment, such an understanding presupposes a thoroughgoing revaluation of creative practice and process. We hereby provide a reading of three recent films in which the figures or iconography of the natural environment reflect this 'revolt' against ecological fixity. Visions of catastrophic environmental change force us to reconceive of the very concept of nature as something fundamentally at odds with our perception of what is natural. We thus combine Land's theory of geotrauma with Deleuze's conception of cinema to argue that the cinematic image testifies to a 'pantraumatic self-movement', one by which the relations between parts forming the conditioned or ecological whole are subjected to a universal ungrounding, and therefore by which something necessarily unconditioned escapes its 'natural' conditions. This geophilosophical emphasis upon escape, flight or deterritorialization should replace the ecological aesthetics of figure and ground with a perceptual catastrophism, disrupting every naturalizing appeal to an harmonic relationship between the human and non-human, cultural and natural worlds.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Uncontrolled Keywords: Nick Land, Gilles Deleuze, geotrauma, cinema, ecology, catastrophe
Publisher: Intellect
ISSN: 2043-068X
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2022 09:14

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