Beyond the pastoral, new approaches to naturalism in the films and expanded cinema works of William Raban and Jürgen Reble

London Plane

Nature is a recurrent theme in art history, ranging from the animals depicted in the earliest cave paintings, to British pastoral landscape painting, and contemporary work concerned with environmental pollution and the ecological crisis.

My research focusses on possibilities to use expanded cinema as a tool to envision a future beyond the present technocratic society. As part of this research I have been looking at two filmmakers more closely. Interviews with both of them, recurrent viewing of their work and active participation with their practice have informed and enabled my theoretical and historiographical perspective.

William Raban's films have been described as 'landscape films' although non of his films are dealing with landscape as their main subject. Raban’s work rather deals with the materiality of time (Gidal, 1976) and the subjective exposition of an inner or outer reality by the use of multiple viewpoints.

Similarly Jürgen Reble's work is described as being focussed on material transformation and disintegration (Ball, 2004), the filmmakers cosmological and scientific references and his experiments with editing, flicker and colours, inducing neurological effects in the brain, are less well understood.

By re-examining a selection of films and expanded cinema works from both artists, from a position informed by the theory of the posthuman (Braidotti, 2014), I will try to show how these works can contribute to an understanding of nature beyond the pastoral, put an end to false romantic notions of nature, while advocating a dynamic and subjective relationship with the earth, other species and technology.


UAL - RNUAL symposium, London