Anthropocene Cinema Talk by Selmin Kara at UofT

Selmin Kara giving a presentation
Event poster
Thursday, June 9, 2016 - 4:00am

A Talk by Selmin Kara, Assistant Professor, OCAD University

This talk provides an overview of Professor Kara’s recent research on the emerging aesthetic and thematic threads related to the “Anthropocene imaginary” in contemporary cinema, including: the post-cinematic return to the tropes of primordiality and extinction in recent films depicting human loss (in Tree of Life and Beasts of the Southern Wild), fantasies of grand-scale waste and its impacts (in films like Gravity and Snowpiercer), projections of ecological exploitation / anxiety onto human bodies (in Safe, Night Moves, and Upstream Colour), and evocations of insular and hyperstitional climates. 

Faculty Talk April 7th with Selmin Kara

Thursday, April 7, 2016 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm

Please RSVP by April 1st

On Thursday, April 7th 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm Selmin Kara, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and 2014/2015 OCAD University Award for Excellence in Early Stage Research, Scholarship & Creative Activity Recipient, will be giving a talk entitled Anthropocene Cinema and the Eco-Sensory Breach.

Coffee and light snacks will be provided.

Please invite your colleagues and join us for this exciting opportunity to hear about Professor Kara’s research. See the poster attached for more details.

In this talk, Selmin Kara will provide a brief overview of her research on the emerging aesthetic and thematic threads related to the Anthropocene imaginary in contemporary cinema, with special attention to films that project the impact of ecological exploitation onto human bodies. In films like Todd Haynes’s Safe (1995), Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves (2013), Shane Carruth’s Upstream Colour (2013), and Elinor Svoboda’s Merus Breach (2013), one finds characters that suffer from an eco-sensory breach that compromises their immune system and makes them oversensitive to certain stimuli such as pathogens, sounds, odours, or touch, due to environmental factors. Depictions of immune system collapse immediately configures the impact of the Anthropocene on the body as a metabolic rift: a tearing apart of the body’s resources and preventing the body from defending itself.  According to immune theory (under the guise of a wide array of philosophers, ranging from Niels Bohr and Fransisco Varela to Donna Haraway), the immune system is closely linked to the formation of identity, since it is predicated upon a distinction between self-and nonself, self and the environment. Varela even goes as far as suggesting that the immune system is one of the constituents of the notion of “self,” since it is a closed network that self-determines the body’s stability and capacities of interaction with its environment. From a cinematic point of view, the four films’ foregrounding of the senses in depicting narratives of bodily vulnerability entangle humans in a sensual ecology, which create an aesthetic that unsettles and resists anthropocentric imaginings. Taking the tension between these films’ narratives of eco-sensory breach and eco-sensuous aesthetic, the talk will explore what they might suggest in terms of transcorporeality and affect in the Anthropocene.  

Venue & Address: 
205 Richmond St. W, Room 420
Faculty Talk poster with event info, biography of Selmin Kara and film stills

Selmin Kara Speaks at the University of Alberta

Anthropocene imaginary in cinema - A Future in Question Poster
Friday, October 9, 2015 - 4:00am

Alfonso Cuarón’s sci-fi thriller Gravity (2013) introduced to the big screen a quintessentially 21st-century villain: space debris. The spectacle of high-velocity 3D detritus raging past terror-struck, puny-looking astronauts stranded in space turned the Earth’s orbit into not only a site of horror but also a wasteland of hyperobjects, with discarded electronics and satellite parts threatening everything that lies in the path of their ballistic whirl. In the same year, techno-industrial waste made another center-stage appearance in South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho’s international sci-fi film Snowpiercer (2013), this time as an anarchic agent of revolution. Snowpiercer depicts the class struggles among the survivors of an accidental ice age triggered by a human experiment aimed at counteracting global warming, but which left the remnants of humanity confined to the claustrophobic space of a train ceaselessly circling the globe. The cruelty of the technofixes put in effect in order to maintain the carefully bio-engineered mini-ecosystem on board the train eventually lead to a revolt. The revolutionary cause calls for extreme measures, thus prompting one of the main characters to fashion a bomb out of the highly addictive and also highly combustible drug Kronol, which is made of industrial waste. The bomb annihilates (almost) everyone aboard the train – which is to say: nearly all of humanity.

In her talk, Selmin Kara uses these two films’ fantasies of waste as an entry point to talk about the emerging Anthropocene imaginary in cinema. More specifically, she argues that we can now speak of a cinema of the anthropocene, which is as much a product of new filmic technologies in post-cinema as the conditions of global capitalism that have sped up the catastrophic impacts of human geo-engineering.

Friday, October 9, 2015