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The Cinematic Animal: Animal Life, Technology, and the Moving Image

O'Neil-Ortiz, Javier (2019) The Cinematic Animal: Animal Life, Technology, and the Moving Image. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Critical studies of animal life and the cinema tend toward the thematic and topical, in service of human themes. My dissertation, by contrast, addresses the absolute priority of animal subjects to the emergence of the cinema and the originary role of animal life in the technological development of the moving image. From Marey and Muybridge’s pre-cinematic work to ethologists’ early embrace of filmic technologies to contemporary digital and motion capture cinema, animal life continues to drive broad transformations in visual culture, technology, and bioethics. At the same time, I argue, the cinema and adjacent technologies have constitutively participated in a profound transformation of animal life, both materially and theoretically. As genetic and digital editing techniques converge, inherited conceptions of a natural animal displaced or endangered by industry have given way to one that passes not around but through capital. Popularly and scientifically, nonhuman life increasingly displays as artificial, engineered, and futuristic – a transformation I trace from Cold War cinema and its newfound ecological anxieties to contemporary biotech thrillers. In our era of CRISPR and transgenic therapeutics, life – animal, human, and otherwise – has never been more confused, and mediated, in both theory and practice. In this work, I aim to affirm the primacy of animal life to cinematic representation and the fundamental role of visual technologies in the definition of animal life.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
O'Neil-Ortiz, Javierjfo3@pitt.edujfo3
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLandy,
Committee MemberMajumdar,
Committee MemberLowenstein,
Committee MemberLippit, Akira
Date: 31 January 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 November 2018
Approval Date: 31 January 2019
Submission Date: 6 December 2018
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 183
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Film Studies
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: animal studies, film studies, new media, science and technology studies, digital cinema
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2019 16:16
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2024 06:15


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