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James Benning's Environments

Politics, Ecology, Duration

Edited by Nikolaj Lübecker, Daniele Rugo

Hardback
£75.00

A critical exploration of James Benning’s films, the material environments they explore and the perceptual environments they create

For more than forty years, the experimental filmmaker James Benning has been engaged in a systematic investigation of the relations between man, landscape, and the filmic medium, and during the last decade it has become increasingly clear how much these investigations have to offer to contemporary debates about ecology, the age of the anthropocene and the potentialities of new digital technologies. In James Benning’s Environments a range of international scholars highlight the thematic and formal coherence of Benning’s practice, whilst providing readers with an artistic and historical context to understand his experimental film work. The volume offers a number of interpretative frameworks drawing on film theory, environmental humanities, visual culture and philosophy, explaining why Benning has emerged as one of today’s essential filmmakers.

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Contents

Introduction, Nikolaj Lübecker & Daniele Rugo
 
Intellectual Environments
Surveying James Benning, Scott MacDonald
Utah and the Times: Governing Temporality in Deseret, John Beck
Violence and Landscape in the Films of James Benning, Nikolaj Lübecker

Material Environments
Constructing the Transversal Time-Image: Ecosophy, Immanence and Corporate ‘Land’ in James Benning’s Four Corners and California Trilogy, Colin Gardner
Men in Huts in Woods: Independence, Transcendentalism and Technology in James Benning’s Thoreau and Kaczynski Documentaries and Exhibition, Silke Panse
The Earth as Material Film: Benning’s light glance making a material-image, Felicity Colman

Perceptual Environments
A Lake-Event, Tom Conley
Defacing the Close-up, Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli
The Adventure of Patience, Daniele Rugo

Index

About the Author

Nikolaj Lübecker is Professor of French and Film Studies at St John’s College, University of Oxford. His publications focus on contemporary American and European cinema, French literature and critical theory. His most recent book, The Feel-Bad Film (Edinburgh UP, 2015), investigates logics of unpleasure in films by directors such as Claire Denis, Lars von Trier, Gus Van Sant, Bruno Dumont and Harmony Korine.

Daniele Rugo is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Arts & Humanities at Brunel University London. He is the author of two books, Philosophy and the Patience of Film (Palgrave, 2016) and Jean-Luc Nancy and the Thinking of Otherness (Bloomsbury, 2013), and his articles have appeared in various journals including Angelaki, Third Text, Cultural Politics and Film-Philosophy. He is the recipient of an Arts and Humanities Research Council Innovation Grant for the project 'Following the Wires', which uses film to examine post-conflict scenarios in Lebanon.

Reviews

James Benning's film and video works are not just powerful and entrancing interventions in contemporary art. They are in most instances complex statements about the nature of the world, questions about how we know it, and challenges to the political responsibilities we have for both the world and our ways of knowing. Nikolaj Lübecker & Daniele Rugo have curated some of the best contemporary art theorists, ecocritics, film philosophers and Benning specialists to create a startling and provocative account of a body of work of immense importance to how we interpret and act in the Anthropocene.

- Professor Sean Cubitt, Goldsmiths, University of London

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