Cinemas of Exploration
In this talk I will discuss the working hypotheses that helped us frame our recent collection Cinema of Exploration: Essays on an Adventurous Film Practice (Routledge, 2021). The collection aims to analyze the implications of exploration filmmaking around the world in relation to the technological, social, cultural, economic, and ecological developments that have marked its emergence and import in different geopolitical contexts. From the global tradition of travel films and early anthropological reportages to different contemporary variations on the theme of the travelogue, we discovered that Cinema of Exploration is a stand-in for multiple modes and genres of filmmaking: “national geographic”, documentary, experimental, avant-garde, “fakes”, etc.
Some of the questions that I will address in this talk are: What is the political import of representing exploration, particularly in light of the critiques of representation purported by postcolonial theory? How does the development of these practices and discourses impact our understanding of the history and geography of moving images? How do they both reflect and impact the actual technological and sociocultural developments of our age? What role have these traditions played in the development of film theory, media epistemology, and concepts of perception, world, and universe? And finally, how have exploration films changed now—in an era where human activity is a determinant cause of geological and climatological changes—and how might they provide useful documents for thinking and challenging such global crises?
Luca Caminati's research deals with post-colonial theory and orientalist discourses in post-WWII Italian cinema and media, with a specific interest in non-fiction film and media arts. In 2009-2010 he was the recipient of the Paul Mellon/National Endowments for the Humanities "Rome Prize", a residential fellowship awarded by the American Academy in Rome. His current SSHRC-funded project, titled Traveling Auteurs: the Geopolitical Afterlife of Postwar Italian Art Cinema, investigates the "Third World" documentary films of political filmmakers and artists. He is currently serving as associate editor for the journal Italica. He previously taught at Colgate University and the University of Florida.