Inga Pollmann

Tuesday 06/18/2024, 6:00 pm

Inga Pollmann (University of North Carolina)

Cinematic Atmospheres and Critique

A video recording of this lecture will be available after the event.

Aesthetic atmospheres are forms of knowing and feeling that are as irrefutable and powerful as they are intangible and nonverbal. They are comprehensive, apprehensive, intensive; protracted and contracted; anticipatory and delayed, predictive and memorizing. They depend on being tacit and are usually a background hum to actions and utterances of the foreground. If we focus on atmospheres, however, this perspective reverses: symphonic and gradual modulations in time are foregrounded, as is the granularity of space; knowledge remains preverbal and embedded in feeling; plot is something diffuse and dispersed, encompassing not just characters, but environments – the whole image.

How can something as enveloping as an aesthetic atmosphere allow for the distance or rupture necessary for critique? Or does the pervasiveness of engineered atmospheres necessitate new forms of critique? This talk seeks to develop a framework for situating cinematic atmospheres in the triangulation of mood, milieu, and mediation, in order to grasp their affective, environmental and mediated dimensions and analyze them as multiple and uneven. To probe this framework, the talk will draw on the early 20th century animal photography by George Shiras III, Max Ophüls’ direction and Eugen Schüfftan’s cinematography in the 1939 French melodrama Sans lendemain (There Is No Tomorrow) and suggest an expanded understanding of Siegfried Kracauer’s film theory.

Inga Pollmann is Associate Professor in Film, German and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her work, she situates film and media theory within larger questions concerning aesthetics, philosophy and theories of science. In addition to her monograph Cinematic Vitalism: Film Theory and the Question of Life (AUP, 2018), she has published on contemporary German cinema, early hunting films, melodrama, etc. Her current book project Mood, Medium, Milieu: Environmental Film Aesthetics draws on films, artworks, and media objects to map out a critical environmental aesthetic at the intersection of atmospheres, affections, ecology, and mediation.


Lecture in English language.

Medienseminarraum, IG Farben-Gebäude 7.214
Campus Westend, Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main