This workshop will focus on the first chapter of James Leo Cahill's book, Zoological Surrealism: The Nonhuman Cinema of Jean Painlevé (University of Minnesota Press, 2019), which argues for the importance of training in the natural science discipline of comparative anatomy to the first generation of French Surrealists and to Jean Painleve in particular. Drawing upon the modes of visualization and seeing refined in the laboratories of the Sorbonne and the Roscoff Biological Station, Painleve developed Surrealist and cinematic practices as forms of comparative anatomy by other means. Giving special attention to his first popular documentaries, released between 1928-1929, the chapter examines how Painleve amplified techniques of comparative anatomy into a Surrealism of scales, which trains a critical, nonanthropocentric eye on the evaluative criteria through which comparison happens. Participants are asked to read the first chapter of Cahill’s book prior to the event.
James Leo Cahill is Director of the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto and general editor of Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture. He is currently working on a new book manuscript, "On The Plurality of Worlds: Exploration from the Little Prince to the Planet of the Apes."
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