Geosocial Encounters

A film program in the environmental humanities about climate change and the cinematic construction of nature


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Health / Sustainability
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Penn Program in Environmental Humanities


Rahul Mukherjee, Ben Mendelsohn

Opens to public



4-5:30pm, 6-8:00pm


4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

On the web


Slought is pleased to announce Geosocial Encounters, a film program in the environmental humanities about climate change and the cinematic construction of nature, on Thursday, September 19, 2019 from 4-8:00pm. This program is free and open to the public, and will feature films by Shambhavi Kaul, Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer, Adam Diller, and Peter Bo Rappmund, followed by public conversation with the filmmakers.

In recent decades, global media artists have increasingly engaged landscape, cityscape, and large-scale infrastructure in their works. Alongside popular and scholarly discourses about anthropogenic climate change, coastal flooding, the Anthropocene, and the very meaning of "nature," artists are exploring how material phenomena disperse and move across air, soil, water, and infrastructural systems—the elements of earth. What can video art, experimental documentary, and sensory ethnography teach us about the practice of urban and environmental research? How are scholar - filmmakers utilizing audiovisual tools and contributing to these genres of film and video art? This program posits that documentary film and video can provide a powerful model for training scholars' observational skills, conceptualizing scales of analysis, and engaging broader publics in urban and environmental research. At this event, filmmakers and media practitioners will converse with scholars to explore the connections between environmental aesthetics and politics. The program will also address how computational infrastructures are integral to predicting the earth's climate futures; how visual media map/trace/visualize capitalist accumulation; how artists interpret interspecies relations across varying spatio-temporal scales; and the capacity for land and seascapes to record and transmit memory and culture.

This program has been organized by Dr. Rahul Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of Television and New Media Studies, and Dr. Ben Mendelsohn, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, with the support of the School of Arts and Sciences and University Research Fund, the Department of English, the Cinema and Media Studies Program, the Wolf Humanities Center, the Center for Experimental Ethnography, the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication, and the Center for Media at Risk. The program will continue on Friday, September 20th with a symposium hosted by the Wolf Humanities Center, 255 South 36th Street, Room 623, Williams Hall.

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Peter Bo Rappmund is a filmmaker and artist based in Sante Fe, New Mexico. His films take a phenomenological approach to the study of contemporary infrastructural landscapes, and have been screened widely at international festivals and museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Film Festival, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Vancouver International FIlm Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Camden International Film Festival, CPH:DOX, and many others. Through meticulously sculpted compilations of location sound with still imagery captured at a variety of intervals, he has produced hyperrealist portraits of the Los Angeles River (Psychohydrography, 2010), the Trans Alaska Pipeline (Topophilia, 2015), and the U.S. - Mexico border (Tectonics, 2011). His newest project, Communion Los Angeles (2018), is a collaboration with Adam R. Levine that traces Los Angeles's 110 freeway at day and at night.

Shambhavi Kaul is Associate Professor of the Practice of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies at Duke University. Her short films conjure uncanny, science-fictive non-places and have been described as creating "zones of compression and dispersion." These cinematic constructions utilize strategies of montage and recirculation to invite an affective response while simultaneously measuring our capacity to know what we encounter. She has exhibited at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Berlinale, The New York Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Edinburgh International Film Festival, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the 2014 Shanghai Biennale.

Cymene Howe is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rice University. Her research is concerned with how anthropogenic climate change calls for new ways of imagining our collective biotic and material futures. Her second book, Ecologics: Wind and Power in the Anthropocene (Duke 2019) follows the contingencies of renewable energy development in Oaxaca, Mexico where indigenous people, state actors and non-human others are swept up into the turbulent politics surrounding wind power. She cohosts the Cultures of Energy Podcast, and in 2018 released the documentary film NOT Ok: A Small Movie about a Little Glacier at the End of the World, about Iceland's first glacier to be lost to climate change. In 2019, with Dominic Boyer, she created the Okjökull memorial, the first monument to a dead glacier.

Adam Diller is a Ph.D. candidate in Documentary Arts and Visual Research at Temple University. His film, audio, and installation work explores human-nonhuman ecologies through a practice informed by phonography, critical geography, and landscape film. He has performed and exhibited in venues throughout the U.S. and abroad and in festivals such as Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Crossroads Film Festival (SF Moma), Visible Evidence, Interfilm (Berlin), Prvi Kadar (Sarajevo), New York Independent Documentary Festival, London International Documentary Festival, Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival, Northwest Film Forum, and the Montreal Underground Film Festival.


Opening Remarks

Program 1

Shambhavi Kaul, Scene 32, 2009
Peter Bo Rappmund, Vulgar Fractions, 2012
Adam Diller, 28 Outfalls, 2014

Program 2

Shambhavi Kaul, Hijacked, 2015
Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer, Not Ok, 2018
Shambhavi Kaul, Night Noon, 2014
Shambhavi Kaul, 21 Chitrakoot, 2012