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Towards an Ethics of Nearness: a Study on Cinema, Time and Animal Vitality

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posted on 13.07.2022, 20:40 authored by Marianne Hoffmeister Castro

The following thesis will propose an exploration of the role of nonhuman beings in the history of moving image and their renewed status in contemporary film practices. In times of increased environmental awareness, accelerated extinction events, and global zoonotic diseases, new cross-disciplinary endeavors between ecology, art, and the humanities have emerged to nurture ideas on the deep interconnectedness between human and nonhuman worlds.

Aligned with these attitudes, the first section of this paper will pose a critical examination to the symbolic and material entanglements between film, contemporary documentaries and animal labour. From there, I will move to an analysis of experimental film approaches that expand or challenge the tradition of the representation of nonhuman beings. Connected with matters of ecology and a renovated attentiveness to nonhuman lives, these new ‘ecocentric’ cinematic approaches visualize new modes of relation with more than- human worlds. I will examine how ideas of cinematic time and eventhood are utilised as powerful apparatuses to envisage realms of nonhuman singularity, perception, and, perhaps, liberation. Considering visual fields as a fertile territory to inaugurate new ways of comprehending, conceptualizing, and addressing animals, I will position these new efforts into a framework I coin Ethics of Nearness, a speculative system of mindful visual interrelationships, where art practices shape generative and conscientious solidarities towards nonhuman worlds with swarming affects and respectful curiosities: a meeting-place where new methodologies of imaging can operate in favour of those that crawl, fly, leap or squeal.




Degree Type

Master's Thesis



Degree Name

  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Lyndon Barrois Jr. Clayton Merrell John Soluris

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