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Process over Product: Kinesthetic Cinema, Sporting Bodies, and Media Milieux

Hebert, Adam (2023) Process over Product: Kinesthetic Cinema, Sporting Bodies, and Media Milieux. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation examines historically the interplay between sporting bodies, technological experimentation, and the fluctuations of moving-image practice. Each of its chapters revolves around a historical, local collision of sport and media-making, yet it also offers a broader framework through which we can consider how cinema has given sport a particular image while being heavily determined, aesthetically and technologically, by sport and athletics. In analyzing “standard” sports—boxing and Olympic events—as well as those often considered as marginal—freediving, skateboarding, and nineteenth-century athletic motion studies—I offer a more robust account of how these sporting cinematic relations have unfolded. By looking closely at production processes and the often experimental course of technological development, I argue that renewed attention to cinematic devices generated vis-à-vis athletic process and sporting milieux allows us to place significant pressure on a number of film-theoretical assumptions. In this regard, the four chapters and coda of this dissertation provide a reconsideration of cinematic contingency, indexicality, questions of milieu and measurement, embodied image-capture, and the notion of “problems” in filmmaking. Critically, I expand the discussion of sporting bodies to include those on both sides of the lens, paying close attention to how cinematographers and camera operators are often moved by the surprising and kinesthetic movements they aim to track. I develop an approach that rethinks cinematic relationality, providing a thickened sense of experience that accounts for a sporting process that sweeps up both athlete and camera operator. In so doing, I argue that careful attention paid to technical specifications and production particulars can profitably coexist with a close-reading disposition; increased familiarity with the processes of production urges us to see—and feel—in the images themselves certain markers of this relation. Although sports media is a privileged site for such analysis, this approach is also useful in terms of image-making practices far afield from the gymnasium, the boxing ring, or Olympic stadia.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hebert, Adamach76@pitt.eduach760000-0002-7714-7225
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAnderson, Mark Lynnandersml@pitt.eduandersml
Committee MemberHalle, Randallrhalle@pitt.edurhalle
Committee MemberLowenstein, Adamalowen@pitt.edualowen
Committee MemberMajumdar, Neepanmajumda@pitt.edunmajumda
Date: 27 April 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 July 2022
Approval Date: 27 April 2023
Submission Date: 4 August 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 424
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: sports; cinema; production studies; film theory; process philosophy; Muybridge; Latham; Hass; skateboarding; Olympics
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2023 14:17
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2023 14:17


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