Triumph of the real: cinema, photography, conspiracy

Project: Other projectMiscellaneous project

Project Details


A proposed book on postwar cinematic realism that focuses on the dominant aesthetic of naturalism. It is argued that the "scientised image" emerging from early modern, and especially late-Renaissance pictorial art has had profound effects on naturalism in cinematography in particular. Cinematography is the modern craft most closely associated with the Renaissance project of creating the illusion of three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface (by the use of perspective and volume).

Naturalism was at the heart of the postwar realist revolution in cinema. But what was once revolutionary has become dangerously atrophied. The illusion at the core of naturalism is one source of the problem; another is the ways in which images are narrativised. The problem is most clearly evident in modern, and especially post 9/11, conspiracy theories.

Key findings

The book calls for a re-think of realist orthodoxies, especially in dramatic and non-fiction cinema. It highlights the failures of realist cinema, and realist documentary in particular, in telling stories from countries and regions riven with conflict, as well as some successes that have adopted anti-realist aesthetics and narratives.
Effective start/end date1/11/1231/12/17