An Oceanic Feeling

ERIKA BALSOM: AN OCEANIC FEELING: CINEMA AND THE SEA

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ERIKA BALSOM: AN OCEANIC FEELING: CINEMA AND THE SEA

Author/Editor: Erika Balsom, edited by Paul Brobbel


CONTENTS

What is oceanic feeling? For Sigmund Freud, it is the sensation of an unbreakable bond between oneself and the outside world. Rather than an assertion of mastery over the world as a standing reserve to be instrumentalised by human will, oceanic feeling is a quasi-sublime state in which the integrity of the self is lost, or at least compromised, in a sense of limitlessness, unboundedness, and interconnectedness. 

An Oceanic Feeling: Cinema and the Sea takes Freud’s metaphor literally, returning this sense of “belonging inseparably to the external world as a whole” to its aquatic origins to explore how the ocean forges connections between people, between communities, and between the human and nonhuman. Across five themes—the elemental contingencies of water, the fascination of submarine cinematography, representations of littoral labour, approaches to the Middle Passage and illegalized migration, and the materiality of global maritime circulation—An Oceanic Feeling drifts idiosyncratically through the history of cinematic representations of the sea. From Hollywood to documentary and the avant-garde, it searches for reflections on what it means to belong to the whole of a world in our time of ecological, humanitarian, and political emergency.

An Oceanic Feeling: Cinema and the Sea by Erika Balsom, is an essay that surveys the seascape of historical and contemporary filmmaking across genres. The result of the author’s 2017 residency with the Govett-Brewster as International Film Curator in Residence, An Oceanic Feeling complicates the Romantic myth of the ocean as a dark, monstrous void of unknowable depths, populated by alien creatures/ Across five themes—the elemental contingencies of water, the fascination of submarine cinematography, representations of littoral labour, approaches to the Middle Passage and illegalized migration, and the materiality of global maritime circulation—An Oceanic Feeling drifts idiosyncratically through the history of cinematic representations of the sea, approaching the ocean as a vast and fluid archive traversing nature and culture. Through the essay, Balsom asks: what if we understood the ocean not as dividing us but as connecting us? What politics, what ethics, would follow? Includes discussion of works by Peggy Ahwesh, John Akomfrah, Sophie Calle, Jean Painlevé and others.

An Oceanic Feeling: Cinema and the Sea is the first of the Govett-Brewster’s STATEMENTS series of commissioned essays, published with the support of Creative New Zealand.

2018
Paperback, 79 pages
7 x 4.5 in

Additional Information

Weight 8 oz
Dimensions 7 × 4.5 in
Price

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