I See a Darkness (2023) delves into the shadow archive of image-capture technologies, and, with an emphasis on the non-human and animal, raises questions about the streamlining of cinematographic technologies in the 20th century by scientific rationality. This film essay is a political manifesto for seeing differently, a tightly woven matrix integrating chrono-photographic experiments, undersea filmmaking and atomic photography as it focuses on three iconic figures whose lives and work intersected in compelling ways: Lucien Bull, Harold E. Edgerton and Jacques Cousteau.

I think a good point to start is at the film’s first scene, the overture of the Bailly quote about the pensivity of animals and then the series of shots showing different animals and their gazes. It’s a pivotal sequence because I feel it haunts the entire rest of the film, even when the exploitation or ontology of animal life isn’t at the forefront. 

It doesn’t settle on a Rousseau-like notion of animality as authenticity nor on animals as any one thing to be viewed through any one frame. The declaration of the need for a new politics that includes animal perception and autonomy, and the fact you show these gazes but never try to mimic them, feels like an urge to contemplate animals and their perception of the world and not just as grist with or against which humanity can be constructed.

I would be curious to know more about the impetus of this scene. And on a broader point, when and how did this thinking about animal existence, perception and autonomy within and outside images began to intersect with your interest in the wider legacies of the invention of cinema and Bull’s creations?

You ask about the impetus for the scenes with the gaze of animals at the start of the film. We filmed those scenes after most of the film was already shot and we were isolated on the Ox mountains during a long covid lockdown and had more time to develop much slower and deeper relationships with both animal and plant life around us. 

As you rightly point out, our way of thinking about animals wasn’t any kind of easy sentimentality or romantic idea of them representing some state of ‘purity’ or authenticity, but was based on many years of thinking about the animal on a more complicated level, based on our interest in philosophy, but also the many writers we love who have written about the animal in more challenging conceptual and affective ways.

Making a film like ours inevitably involves a lot of subterranean flows back and forth between different ideas, as it wasn’t based on any fixed narrative structure, but on a desire to create new relations between subjects we found both fascinating and troubling and, our intention with such film essays is to try to allow ideas to ferment and produce their own impetus and new questions. 

The question of the animal was there from the outset in terms of a critical response we felt instinctively towards the way science, as an epistemology and power structure, felt it had an undeniable right to do whatever it saw fit with animals in the course of experimentation: it’s an accepted foundation of Enlightenment thinking that the animal must be dominated, and that power relation defines what is means to be human from the 18th century on.

In looking at aspects of scientific cinematography, and its relationship with the origins of cinema, the role of the animal and insect life in particular, became central, given how the movement they created, and the challenge that movement presented to newly constructed forms of human subjectivity and culture, became a focus of so much chrono-photographic experimentation. The question of movement and its relationship with life itself, and perception of that life, was intrinsic to the evolution of early cinema. In our film you see the very delicate but almost tortuous devices invented at the Marey institute to entrap dragonflies and then release them in order to be filmed at high speed. The forensic instincts at play here show the desperation in trying to reduce the animal to the configurations and fragmented rationalities of science.

So, from the start we knew the animal would figure in our film on many levels.

I See A Darkness

We had already filmed the abandoned zoo in LA which appears at the end of the film, before we shot the opening sequence, and we had filmed the coyote in Death Valley. We had been collecting shots of reflections in animals eyes in a more ad hoc way, but were also thinking about that early photograph (a photograph of the eye of a firefly by Sigmund Exner) that Jimena Canales, the philosopher of science and technology, mentions in our film in the section dealing with early studies of insect vision, and how merely seeing a reflection of a world we recognise in the eyes of other creatures made many think that they must ‘perceive’ what we perceive as humans. This of course, in terms of the history of science as opposed to philosophy, showed how much a kind of scientific reductionism persisted in theories about vision.

So there was a lot floating around already in the film concerning the idea of the animal as we were shaping it into an edit, and then everything came to a stop for a while with those covid lockdowns.

We found ourselves spending hours walking these country lanes and mountains near our cottage, with a lot of time to gaze at plants and animals, and to look in very different ways than just ‘watching’ or ‘observing’. 

The shot of the three sheep standing over me on the ditch and staring at me [KW], though not really at me but towards me or in some more profound existential state of shared space and looking, came about after my being allowed into their space and being absorbed into it, after 2 hours of just standing there in front of them. That kind of looking presents a challenge to conventional western concepts of representational logic and ‘gazing’ as, yes, it involves the eyes of those creatures and the human observer, but of course it also involves smell and subtle micro-movements not ‘capturable’ by a camera. The blind dog whose non-seeing gaze we filmed, was another creature we came upon in our daily walks and whose negotiation of space fascinated us.

The shots of the dead roughly-fashioned eyes of the carousel animals in front of the Cinémathèque in Paris, were again attempting to open up the disjunction between what function a particular animal is seen to have in anthropomorphic terms, and the irony of all these badly designed animal eyes circling round and round every day in front of the Cinémathèque, like some inversion of a chrono-photographic device or praxinoscope.

We were in effect haunted by the gazes and presence of animals, as is the history of cinema, and certain writers and thinkers became very important for us, such as Akira Mizuta Lippit whose book Electric Animal (on the animal’s relation with, and impact on, philosophy, literature, science and cinema) we had read previously and loved, and Jean Christophe Bailly’s beautiful book The Animal Side. Lippit’s book Atomic Light: Shadow Optics was already foundational for our film along with Bailly’s The Instant and Its Shadow.

I [KW] shot the footage of the various creatures at the start on my phone with an intentionally more informal and at times what looks like a ‘low tech’ or even ‘dirty’ look. This very much fits in with our philosophical and political concerns about overly produced slick cinematic aesthetics, where all of the focus is on some digital fantasy of perfection, and our film is very much contesting that normalised narrative of cinema as an art form moving relentlessly from imperfection to perfection via the digital. So, the animal, as much as anything, becomes an assemblage of forces that counters that narrative. We didn’t want to ‘capture’ them as objects of pure digital perception, but allowed the imperfection of how they were shot to foster and contain stubborn points of resistance, much like their gazes. It was also why we chose to film the coyote in Death Valley (near the atomic test sites where Edgerton’s high-speed cameras were used) on 16mm. He appeared out of the desert like Harry Dean Stanton in Paris Texas and his presence was as elusive and haunting as many a lost cinematic soul, but also had a sense of a being utterly irreducible to cinematic tropes — acinematic even. I [KW] once wrote an essay entitled A Wilderness of Elsewheres drawing on Robert Smithson’s essay A Cinematic Atopia and in a way that coyote was very much a creature of atopia, something defying representation and more like a singularity in the Deleuzean sense than perhaps related to Barthes conception of atopia.

But before any of these more explicit references, the core affective and philosophical influences have to be Nietzsche, Blanchot, and Deleuze and Guattari whose work in its entirety flows through the film. 

Two works that were important at the later editing stage of our film were Laura McMahon’s Animal Worlds: Film , Philosophy and Time and Pick’s Creaturely Poetics: Animality and Vulnerability in Literature and Film.

Lippit said in an interview about Electric Animal

“the animal is perhaps the place where life as such has been most excluded in the history of human cultures. And as such it is the place, perhaps, where this rethinking has to begin” and for him the question of the animal is “critically linked to the question of cinema, and the arrival of cinema, and the force of cinema throughout the 20th century.”

This framing of the problem of the animal in modernity and cinema, but also science, explored so sensitively by Lippit, became very important for us.

I found this decision to film these animals through an ‘imperfect’ form to be all the more striking in how it contrasts with those other moving images you include, made in pursuit of science and ‘progress’ and that maintain a hierarchy of experience with humans on top and animals below. The excerpts from Jacques Cousteau’s and Louis Malle’s The Silent World (1956) and the newsreel footage of the radiation tests on animal anatomy are deeply upsetting to watch not just for their violence but the way that violence is framed. Their cruelty is amplified in how they’re contextualised with a cynical anthropomorphism. 

In nature documentaries of this century, you won’t find the filmmakers actively participating in such destruction as much anymore but do you think anthropocentric chauvinism still persists to some degree in, to pick a specific quintessential example, the work of the BBC’s natural history unit?

The subject of nature documentaries is an important one, as it’s the main medium through which most people learn to conceive of the animal, and perhaps contemplate animals outside the domestic or functional realm of their surroundings, or the romantic simplicities of childrens’ books. Certainly, as children we were entranced by some very simple but effective nature programmes that were made for Irish television before we had the chance to see the higher budget aesthetic of the BBC’s productions. 

For example programmes such as this lovely Irish language series Amuigh Faoin Spéir (Out under the Sky) by Eamonn De Buitléar and Dutch artist Gerrit Van Gelderen played a much more modest yet profoundly influential role in most Irish people of our generation’s appreciation of nature and wildlife. The politics of the anti-nuclear movement was very strong in Ireland and where I [KW] grew up in west Cork the CND movement tended to be connected to other animal rights and marine protection organisations. I remember desperately wanting to run away from home to join the Sea Shepherd at 14 and reading Silent Spring that same year and a book on the Enola Gay. When RTE started showing the BBC Natural History (David Attenborough) series the footage was intoxicating of course and fascinating, but as you rightly suggest, the myth of ‘scientific objectivity’ was very problematic, and I felt that strongly even as a teenager watching those programmes. This fantasy of neutrality and non-interventionism where animals are filmed being hunted and killed as if it was merely an ‘honest’ depiction of death seemed unethical, when the very presence of a camera crew and the framing aesthetic and philosophy of the programme was already an intervention, not to mind the residues of colonial power sublimated as it so often is in an enlightenment agenda.

One aspect of our film is drawing out the hidden but in fact quite obvious links between the military and marine nature filming, and revealing how the investigative documentarian impulses of figures such as Cousteau were so often in fact linked to the military. Cousteau was an ex naval officer so blowing up areas of underwater life to get good shots didn’t present any great ethical conflict for him, and the urge to push the boundaries of ‘research’ around marine life using whatever means necessary was very dominant. Again, his films undoubtedly awakened a love of and fascination with underwater life and its strangeness for millions, but the emphasis was always on the value of the spectacle and disconnected at that time from more complex issues around capitalism, science and nature.

So yes, there was chauvinistic anthropomorphism for sure, but also an economic and political framework left unquestioned in such work.

The writing of Paul Virilio in War and Cinema is relevant here too (and his baton is very much taken up by Jimena Canales through her Foucault influenced theoretical research approach) as the evolution of the camera’s ability to see the land in new ways for military purposes (a new military ‘eye’ which Harun Farocki addresses in his work) also sought out the even more hidden world of the sea. New pipelines were being laid across vast oceans to expand and develop capitalist communication networks as well as oil pipelines, and investigating the deep was a much larger scientific project than the version we saw in nature documentaries. Yet those dots were not and could not be joined up for viewers. This is why in our film we wanted to show that the political, the poetic and the philosophical can in fact be woven together as a kind of history of ideas with a critical edge.

When we started making the film we hadn’t intended that it would have the emphasis it ended up having on the animal. We had thought that this subject matter might become another film, but during lockdown, and finding ourselves fostering a number of rescue goats on the Ox mountains, the ‘problem’ of the question of the ‘animal’ and cinema began to seem more central and urgent. We began to feel a very real ethical sense of responsibility to try to engage more with the subject, and our inclusion of a mix of footage we shot of animals we knew and loved around us, and then later footage of goats being tortured for science in atomic tests, was a form of homage to these incredible creatures we had come to love. On many levels — existential, ontological, aesthetic, political, we felt that it would be dishonest of us to sidestep how much the mistreatment of animals was central to the history of technology and cinema.

But there is another more profound level of engagement to do with trying to “think from the outside” as written about by Blanchot and Foucault  and what any rethinking of the ‘animal’ might open up in terms of a re-conceptualising of the givens of image-capture and western representational perception.

The Khamsah of Nizami

In one iteration of our film, contextualised by an exhibition in the Photo Museum in Dublin, we chose to display a print of this painting in the Chester Beatty Museum The Khamsah of Nizami: Alexander in the Land of Darkness sees Khidr by the Water of Life (Iran 1529) which we have had a postcard of for years on a writing desk, as it seems to depict a very different animistic cosmology to the more conventional western European images we see of the relationship between man and landscape and animals. Animals appear organically emerging from the rocks and trees, and the relationship with who is doing the looking and how they are seen is strikingly ‘other’. What can be interesting, in trying to create new lines of thought around any given subject, is to allow what might seem like unrelated art forms and even historical periods to create new sets of relations conceptually and intellectually, and that particular painting for us speaks a lot about what was being aimed for (in an oppositional sense) with industrial cinema and its view of the world and non human life-forms in it.

Our sense is that cinematic codes become instrumentalised and appropriated so quickly that even the slow cinema movement’s animal films end up too easily becoming a form of passive observational filming, without provoking more awkward questions and making important connections across disciplines. 

It seems very easy to just dismiss ongoing philosophical engagement that allows for discursive elements requiring careful articulation in a film (the dreaded ‘talking heads’!), as if maintaining that as a thread within a film essay format is simply (and to use an intentionally awful metaphor) “flogging the dead horse” of supposedly long dead theory.

But to maintain a film essay ethos, where new questions are formed in the Nietzschean sense, seems to us, within our practice, to allow for human intellectual articulation and theorising alongside the presence of animals shot in a different register, and an attempt to de-hierarchise more conventional structures around such juxtapositions.

As Anat Pick has written  — “the ‘poetic’ is too easily shorthand for political and ethical respite”. 

The aesthetic one finds as part of the emergence of what might be seen as a new cinematic gaze in many animal-centred films, one which attempts to de-subjectify the human gaze and give agency to the animal, still retains the problem of an ontology and politics of ‘looking’ . 

As Pick writes “ontologically and ethically, the notion that fellow beings must look back at us, or that animals are essentially those beings who look back, privileges one type of encounter, whose humanist credentials are all but exhausted.” It maintains a very outmoded way of conceiving living beings and matter (works such as Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter became influential in this area over the last 10 years with its Spinozist-Deleuzian vitalism).

So, though we do film the gaze of animals in our film, we try to challenge the givens of that in how those scenes are framed with philosophical statements and archival footage — we try to complicate the problem.

In some respects, the genesis of the film is our encounter with Moritz’s novel Anton Reiser (1785) decades ago. This great novel, at once the first Romantic novel and the first Modernist novel, has of late been reduced somewhat to a single passage – that referenced several times by Deleuze in which Anton, face-to face with a calf, expresses a desire to ‘to think himself into the being of such an animal’. Not mentioned as often by those glossing Deleuze’s comments is the qualifier ‘just as he did with human strangers’: in other words, humans are just as ‘other’ to Anton as the calf and the entire novel is an attempt by Anton to come to terms with the sense that his life is a series of encounters with beings that are moved by forces seemingly inaccessible to him. 

We’ve always felt that cinema should begin from a similar sense of existential puzzlement and that what is shown developing on screen should be a mounting series of unresolved questions rather than an obdurate string of pat answers; building up, step-by-step, a film in the Godardian way of making a film politically rather than making a political film: revealing the invisible forces at work rather than identifying the recognisable and oppressive forms per se. 

It certainly seems that we need a new politics of technology as much as we do of animals, or rather, they’re interlinked. One of the major obstacles of dealing with the former is an underlying crisis within the still prevailing ideology of the scientific community. Namely, the tenet that scientific inquiry is the apex of human endeavour and development, and that it is distinct from politics, philosophy and art. And yet science constantly overlaps with these ‘lesser’ domains of human existence that it has supposedly left behind.

I really appreciate how your film challenges this porous dualism by bringing to the fore and raising questions around episodes where this is a slippage between the vaulting of utility and the appreciation of technical mastery with aesthetic pleasure. There are lots of small rich instances but the lynchpin scenes in this regard seem to me when you focus in on Bull’s and Edgerton’s machine animals and adopt and counter their gazes, such as in the set-up and showcase of the filming of the flame and the bubble and the presentation of Edgerton’s strobing devices.

They strike me as a counterpoint to the aesthetic of mastery and domination epitomised in the advertisement you include displaying the impressive effects of time lapse photography. Its aggressive slickness and triumphant tone made me think of Marinetti’s ‘war is aesthetic’ ideas in his ‘Manifesto Concerning the Ethiopian Colonial War’ or the army recruitment ads I often get bombarded with online and in the cinema. Instead, in the aforementioned sequences, you open the innards of the machines and show not only expert engineering but how they are framed, the possibility of reframing them and a giddiness over their beauty as objects and not just the implications of their findings.

I’m curious if yourselves share, to some degree, these scientists’ enthusiasm over these machines or do you feel distant from them? You wrote about embracing a purposely ‘imperfect’ collage approach as a more open-ended, less hegemonic, net for your ideas. I would like to follow this up by asking about your approach of visualising and contextualising these machines and their makers, given not only the part they play in the construction and reinforcement of systems of hierarchy and warfare around world but that the tools you are using to make this film-in-opposition to these systems, are part of this lineage.

You mention the ideology of science and the cultural framing of science as being distinct from philosophy, politics and art…undoubtedly a central thesis (if you like) of our film is that this has to be thoroughly debunked.  Both of us have a background in philosophy and are well aware of the fact that science was originally a branch of philosophy and that in ethical and political terms it might benefit the scientific community to remember this.

One thinker whose work was important for our film is Jonathan Crary whose book Techniques of The Observer was a groundbreaking study in the history of visual culture in the 19th century, but whose more recent book 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep with its focus on light and the elimination of darkness in contemporary culture, has excerpts read by Crary himself in a voiceover at different points of our film. 

His book Scorched Earth: Beyond the Digital Age to a Post-Capitalist World, which came out after our film was finished, is a brilliant and brave attack on the techno-science industries and their promotional rationalities, not from the easily caricatured position of being ‘anti science’ but using the broader and more profound intellectual tools of philosophy and political theory to expose the complicity between science and capitalism.

Crary argues that important critiques of “the limits and failings of western science have been rendered invisible and unmentionable”. He refers to Alfred North Whitehead’s analysis of how the very nature of what we consider to be ‘science’ changed fundamentally in the 19th century, and techno-science became inseparable from a drive towards product creation within capitalism, and, as Crary points out, its focus became one of commercial, profitable, applications.

He quotes the philosopher Jean-Pierre Dupuy: “Anyone who believes that science and technology will manage to provide a solution to problems created by science and technology, does not believe in the reality of the future”.

So, yes, we need a new politics of technology and techno-science and Crary’s espousal of such a politics in this manifesto-like book is a one worth taking seriously. It echoes for us Bailly’s correspondent call from The Animal Side which recognizes that “the world in which we live is gazed upon by other beings, that the visible is shared among creatures, and that a politics should be invented on this basis, if it is not too late”.

Harold E. Edgerton & Jacques Cousteau

In terms of the relationship between aesthetics and technology, and how we focus in our film on a certain kind of beauty in specific inventions, especially in the examples of early engineering skills and the objects created in both early cinematography and later with high speed cameras — there was a fascination with the idea of experimentation, that stage of creation where new ideas are being transformed into something not seen before and the energy and roughness of this process is visible in the object. These inventions hadn’t yet been fully captured or instrumentalised. The early chrono-photographic devices invented by Lucien Bull in his work at the Marey Institute are examples of this — for example, very finely constructed tiny mechanical devices invented to hold the body of a dragonfly captive until it was released in order to be filmed at high speed, to analyse its motion. The chrono-photographic cameras he developed are very beautiful objects in their own right and we filmed them as such.  What was very noticeable in that Paris context was the way in which aesthetics and art wasn’t excluded from these creations — it was also very much part of the work ethos and thinking of the Institute of Scientific Cinematography (of which Bull was president), whose current president, a very charming and erudite man named Alexis Martinet (who we filmed at the institute in Meudon), epitomises that ethos to this day in his own films.

The rough and ready para-cinematic devices developed by Edgerton in the MIT lab, which we were granted permission to film in, also showed the excitement involved in making new forms of equipment, whilst revealing that there is no such thing as a totally original almost ex nihilo object, and that a lot of trial and error is involved in such processes. It also reminds us that many inventions are rejected not because they fail on a functional level, but because they can’t fulfill the more complex matrix of desired intentions in a research lab — those forces making demands from the outside, which were very much (as we show) the forces of the military industrial complex.

What we saw (and wanted to show others through our research) in spaces such as the Conservatoire des Techniques de la Cinémathèque Française in Paris, which houses an archive of many instruments and pieces of equipment from early cinema, is that there are many very beautiful early cameras and even sound equipment which weren’t rejected because they were failed inventions, but simply because they didn’t comply with the requirements of other outside forces related to the industrialisation of cinema. In other words, the scientific myth of inventions becoming more and more precise and perfect via some kind of evolutionary logic is of course simply a learned and constructed rationality inseparable from the forces of capitalism.

The philosopher of technology Jimena Canales is a very brilliant and exciting thinker in this area, linking technology with bio-politics in a Foucauldian manner, as she delves into that domain we are so fascinated by in all of our work, what we call shadow archives in cultural or intellectual history. In this case (for our present film), Canales offers the kind of critique of science and technology and its histories that Crary calls for. We include an interview with Canales covering a number of fascinating subjects usually overlooked in mainstream scientific coverage, but which seem crucial in terms of re-conceptualising the Enlightenment humanist project of scientific research and early cinema. For example, her Desired Machines: Cinema and the World in Its Own Image looks at how, in her words, “the interplay between what “is” (the technical), what “ought” (the ethical), and what “could” be (the fantastical) drives scientific research” and encourages us to challenge scientific givens which often hide many contesting epistemologies.

Speaking of the machinic and wanting to bring this back to the non-human and animal in our film, it’s worth noting, as our friend the writer Tony Mckibbin points out in his essay Horses on Film, that we shouldn’t forget that false dichotomies exist in the way we are presented with ‘technology’ as oppositional to the animal or nature in a very materialist sense. In his words: “we should note that the very substance of the celluloid itself would have been made potentially out of horses’ bones. As Peta says ‘we do not know of any film that is made without gelatin’ and, of course, gelatin is made from ‘protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. From a certain point of view, the horse has always been on screen in the very material that allowed the film to exist’.” Mckibbin goes on to quote Anat Pick and Guinevere Narraway from Screening Nature:

“From the oil used to power film production, transmission and consumption, to the collagen-containing gelatin of the filmstrip emulsion, the stearic acid in the plastic parts of computers, or the human labour in front of and behind the camera…animal life is quite literally the stuff of images.”

This brings us back to Lippit’s book Electric Animal which he reads from in our film, and how, towards the end of that book, the subject of the animal’s relationship with photography and film can be re-conceptualised. Writing about the footage from 1903 of Edison’s intentional electrocution of an elephant for the purposes of ‘science’ (we include the full sequence in our film and it still has the ability to horrify with its cruelty), Lippit says “in the filmwork one experiences the convergence of a traditional opposition between nature and artifice phusis and technē, animal and technology” and argues that the advent of cinema is thus “haunted” by the animal figure.

In our film we include a lot of harrowing footage of atomic experiments on animals, sourced in recently declassified Atomic Energy Commission archives. We pondered whether or not we should actually show these sequences but felt they had been so suppressed and excluded from the media that we owed it to the animals who experienced such torture to show it. We were well aware of the fact that this was set against our decision not to show footage of humans who had suffered so cruelly in the atomic bombings in Japan — instead showing white film leader and some images of atomic shadow photographs created by the bombs — as those particular images of war have been so normalized and instrumentalised in popular culture. It wasn’t a case of us giving greater priority to animal suffering, far from it. It was attempting to open up ideas of the animal (including the human) to re-sensitise potential viewers to the obscenity and absurdity of how science justifies any means to achieve its ends.

We wanted to create and make explicit the links between older scientific forms of thinking from the 19th century and emerging techno-scientific rationalities with their instruments of technology used to promote a new paradigm of popular culture and entertainment, and also atomic culture, whilst highlighting conceptions of the animal, life and nature which allowed certain atrocities to take place. It was no coincidence that most atomic tests took place on indigenous lands (the Bikini Islands, Indigenous American lands in Nevada etc) and that those populations suffer to this day from the effects of nuclear toxicity. These people were ‘de-humanised’ in a very real sense.

But as Anat Pick suggests, in her re-framing of a new philosophy of the animal and film, what we need to do is not so much expand the humanist project to include the animal, but contract that very idea of the human (Nietzsche’s ‘Human all too Human’) and change our way of understanding human life in nature in conjunction with other forms of life.

The issue of the future of cinema technology and how important it is to situate this subject in the context of the environmental catastrophe we face is also a subject we address — not only in terms of the problem of ‘operational’ images in which cameras pass on visual information to other forms of technology without any human intervention — through Canales’ engagement with the work of Harun Farocki and Trevor Paglen and also the important work of Forensic Architecture in Goldsmiths college. We include an excerpt from Susan Schuppli’s film Not Planet Earth in the epilogue of our film as she confronts the very transformation of the material conditions of photography and image-capture as digital technologies struggle to apprehend the radical environmental transformations and degradations around them.

We would perhaps like to see our film as Spinozist, in the way Deleuze re-invigorates his philosophy, an ethology that brings the animal and human into a new ethics where in Deleuze’s words “an animal, a thing, is never separable from its relations with the world”  and we try to open up new affective as much as philosophical and political relations between disciplines, cultural histories and modes of thought not usually set alongside each other.

We would like to end with a quote from Nietzsche from On Truth and Falsity in their Ultramoral Sense (1873):  

“In some remote corner of the universe, effused into innumerable solar-systems, there was once a star upon which clever animals invented cognition. It was the haughtiest, most mendacious moment in the history of this world, but yet only a moment. After Nature had taken a breath awhile the star congealed and the clever animals had to die—someone might write a fable after this style, and yet he would not have illustrated sufficiently, how wretched, shadow like, transitory, purposeless and fanciful the human intellect appears in Nature.”

About The Author

Ruairí McCann is an Irish writer, programmer, illustrator and musician, born and based in Belfast but raised in County Sligo. He's co-editor of Ultra Dogme, a contributing editor to photogénie, and has contributed to aemi, MUBI Notebook, Documentary Magazine, Film Hub NI, Sight & Sound and Screen Slate, among others. Katherine Waugh is filmmaker, writer and curator whose trans-disciplinary practice includes films such as her film essay The Art of Time with Fergus Daly and curatorial projects drawing on philosophy, literature and film, many in collaboration with Sylvere Lotringer including Schizo-Culture: Cracks in the Street and a number of projects on Antonin Artaud. Fergus Daly is the co-author of a book on Leos Carax. His recent films include Melmoth the Wanderer 1820-2020 (2020), An Irish Georg Trakl (2021) and The Mirror of Possible Worlds: Kiarostami on Aran (2021). Nicole Brenez wrote about his work here.

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