Leviathan and the Sensory Ethnography Lab

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Leviathan, a documentary film about fishing ships in the Northern Atlantic, by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, won the international critics’ prize at the Locarno Film Festival. I could see it, thanks to Mark Peranson and Bettina Steinbrügge, and indeed, I pass you on the recommendation to go and see this work, which achieves “an immersive cinematic experience […] with small, waterproof digital cameras that were variously tethered to the fishermen, tossed in with their dead or dying catch and plunged into the roiling ocean” as described in a New York Times article (click here to read).

Castaing-Taylor’s approach to filming, which is inspired by life’s unpredictability, is also at the core of the “Sensory Ethnography Lab” at Harvard University, which “supports innovative combinations of aesthetics and ethnography that deploy original media practices to explore the bodily praxis and affective fabric of human and animal existence, and the aesthetics and ontology of the natural world. Harnessing perspectives drawn from the arts, the human sciences, and the humanities, works produced in the SEL encourage attention to the many dimensions of life and the world that m

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