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Essays on cinema, anthropology and documentary filmmaking

The looking machine calls for the redemption of documentary cinema, exploring the potential and promise of the genre at a time when it appears under increasing threat from reality television, historical re-enactments, designer packaging and corporate authorship. The book consists of a set of essays, each focused on a particular theme derived from the author’s own experience as a filmmaker. It provides a practice-based, critical perspective on the history of documentary, how films evoke space, time and physical sensations, questions of aesthetics, and the intellectual and emotional relationships between filmmakers and their subjects. It is especially concerned with the potential of film to broaden the base of human knowledge, distinct from its expression in written texts. Among its underlying concerns are the political and ethical implications of how films are actually made, and the constraints that may prevent filmmakers from honestly showing what they have seen. While defending the importance of the documentary idea, MacDougall urges us to consider how the form can become a ‘cinema of consciousness’ that more accurately represents the sensory and everyday aspects of human life. Building on his experience bridging anthropology and cinema, he argues that this means resisting the inherent ethnocentrism of both our own society and the societies we film.

Crisis, hyperfiction and social narratives in postmodern Japan
Angélica Cabrera Torrecilla

Lost Decade It was against this background of the Lost Decade that science fiction flourished. It became the quintessential genre in Japan in the 1980s and early 1990s to describe a particular hyperfictional scenario in which technological growth and economic success promised a prosperous future, while rapid technological advance simultaneously put that future at risk

in The anthropology of ambiguity
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Order
Mona Abaza

speed of construction, should be completed in the next five to seven years. The U$45 billion capital is advertised on its website as an Egyptian Renaissance of a dream, if not as a surreal fantasy world.4 A series of websites on Vimeo Egypt about the New Capital Cairo5 sells a futuristic, science-fiction-like, virtual speculation of the new capital, parading mostly modern and Western-looking women, walking in idyllic landscapes. New Capital Cairo should be conceived of as the antithesis of the central old city of the thousand minarets. It will be a gigantic city that

in Cairo collages
David MacDougall

.indb 121 12/11/2018 12:54:13 F i l m , a n t h r o p o l o g y a n d t h e d o c u m e n t a r y t ra d i t i o n Upon its invention in the 1920s, television was envisaged as a means of live communication, rather like the dreams of video telephones in science fiction. It would provide an instantaneous visual link between one place and another. Before video recording and before kinescopes, live television offered immediacy and the promise of the unpredictable, however much television producers tried to guard against the latter. Everything was done by means of multiple

in The looking machine
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Commute
Mona Abaza

, the question becomes what to do about the missing bodies and those killed by coincidence just because they were in the street. Are they martyrs? Are these vanished bodies with no proper burial, nor proper prayers and ritual ablutions according to Islamic traditions, still considered as martyrs, wonders Rabii‘? In that sense, ‘Utaarid could be classified as a dystopian science-fiction thriller.13 It is a projection of the future Cairo in 2025, twelve years after the 2013 Rabe‘a al-‘Adaweyya massacre, in which the city witnessed the widespread use of thugs to beat up

in Cairo collages
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My exhausted and exhausting building
Mona Abaza

equates the vertical expansion of the modern metropolis Tale III: My exhausted and exhausting building 81 Figure 14  The elevator, 6 April 2016. with high-velocity upward travel. Graham’s ahead-of-its-time analysis of the elevator in modern times informs us that ‘Hitachi’s research elevators are now running at speeds that are 300 times as fast as those in New York 100 years ago’ (Graham 2014: 245). To meditate on Graham’s work is to indulge in a science-fiction novel or a film from a lagging time machine. Graham is quite conscious of the class disparities and

in Cairo collages