Science and the Moving Image
We are becoming people of the screen. The fluid and
fleeting symbols on a screen pull us away from the classical notions of
monumental authors and authority. On the screen, the subjective again trumps
the objective. We are now in the middle of a second Gutenberg shift - from
book fluency to screen fluency, from literacy to visuality.
The significance of moving images for the production of knowledge has become a source for wide-ranging discussions by cultural critics, scientists, artists, filmmakers, and historians. This one-week course will explore several issues and topics arising from the contemporary emergence of scientific moving images as knowledge in the world today. What messages about science and scientific knowledge are communicated by film? How do scientific films define science for different audiences? Why are scientific films important for a broader understanding of science, public history, and knowledge?
To examine the status of moving images as knowledge, this class will look at five different uber-genres of moving scientific pictures: (a) films used within scientific practice as experimental laboratory and field data, (b) science documentaries, (c) contemporary independent media/animation, (d) Hollywood and science fiction films that represent science and scientists for mass audiences, and (e) wildlife/nature films. Each day we will look at and discuss films in each of these categories and explore a variety of different topics in the history of film, science, art and history. Participants will write short papers in class at the end of each discussion and submit a 10-12 written paper on a topic of their choice at the end of the class session. . No background in film or science is expected or assumed.
|Selected Films and Core Readings|
(a) scientific films as data
Readings: Lisa Cartwright, Screening the Body: Tracing
Medicine's Visual Culture (Minneapolis, 1995).
(b) science documentary films
Readings: Timothy Boon, Films of Fact: A History of Science in Documentary Films and Television (Wallflower Press, 2008)
(c) contemporary art/science mixers
Readings: Andy Massaki Bellows et al, Science is
Fiction: The Films of Jean Painleve (MIT, 2000)
(d) depicting science and medicine for mass
audiences (science fiction films/television)
(e) nature/wildlife films