Karel Doing

Ambient poetics and critical posthumanism in expanded cinema

London College of Communication

Expanded cinema can be described as an intrinsically environmental art form, incorporating live elements, reflexivity, and a branching out of the single screen. However, on the level of content only few expanded cinema artists have engaged with the natural environment, most notably Chris Welsby with his investigations regarding the relation between 'mind' and 'nature'.

By tracing formal, social and material aspects of seminal and recent expanded cinema works, the idea of an environmental art form is further explored. Timothy Morton's tools for 'ambient poetics' are used to examine notable works that can be related to such ideas. Aiming at a further shift, away from the anthropocentric, critical posthumanism is staged, a line of thought that embraces earth, animal and machine, regarding each as active entities. In a series of interviews with expanded cinema artists and artist groups, intentional and implicit posthuman elements in expanded cinema work, are discovered and reviewed.

A further step looks at methods, technology and materials, and the environmental 'footprint' those potentially have. The recent surge in attention towards an environmentalist approach to moving image making is briefly sketched, and a possible practice is outlined. Drawing together all these different elements, a proposal is made for an expanded cinema for a posthuman age, using environmental forms and environmentalist techniques, while exhibiting a point of view that relates to forces and entities beyond the human.

The project is achieved through a series of dialogues with artists, academics and conservationists, simultaneously working on multiple strands of the project, and actively feeding back a variation of significant views into the production of the work. Improvisation, recuperation, recycling and chance are used to achieve a dynamic process, resulting in a series of works that explore and demonstrate the subject matter in multiple ways.