Dr Paolo Saporito
School of Film, Music and Theatre
Dr. Paolo Saporito is Government of Ireland-IRC Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Film and Screen Media, University College Cork. He has a PhD in Italian Studies from McGill University, where he also taught courses on Italian culture and cinema and eco-cinema. His research focuses on the ethics and politics of films, literature and online media.
Project Title: Positively Modern: Michelangelo Antonioni and Affirmative Cinematic Ecologies
The aim of Positively Modern is to produce a radical change in our current understanding of the oeuvre of Michelangelo Antonioni and to challenge the critical belief that reduces the stories of his protagonists to grim accounts of alienation. The project redefines these stories in affirmative terms, as experiences of transformation in which human characters explore alternative and non-alienating social and physical relations. The core of Antonioni’s reception negatively characterizes his protagonists’ subjectivity as essentially alienated and also deterministically associates alienation with a specific set of filmic techniques such as long takes, slow camera movements, and decentred human figures.
The project will read this reception against the backdrop of contemporary philosophies of alienation in order to, first, illuminate its flawed assumption that alienation entails the subject’s total loss of relations with his/her environment and, second, redefine the concept as a feeling of powerlessness, constriction in social roles and indifference to the world that hinders but does not interrupt these relations. Through the close analysis of nine films, the project will demonstrate that Antonioni’s protagonists react to their alienating feelings by rethinking their agency, social relations and perception of the world from a non-anthropocentric perspective. Moreover, the project will show that Antonioni does not conceive of the cinematic apparatus as a passive instrument of representation of alienation, but as a machine that establishes non-anthropocentric relations with the human and non-human entities (bodies, objects, environments) included in the image. Through the analysis of Antonioni’s films, the project proposes a much-needed ethical reflection that invites us to imagine more sustainable human–non-human relations from a non-anthropocentric standpoint.