Home > aesthetics, amrae, film, mraaw > Marc Fursteneau – Film, Art, Technology: Between Theory and Aesthetics

Marc Fursteneau – Film, Art, Technology: Between Theory and Aesthetics

October 20, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

[Note: Abstract and speaker bio below – résumé et biographie du conférencier ci-bas.]

(Please circulate widely amongst the member of your faculty and your graduate students. Thank you.)
(S’il vous plaît, veuillez faire circuler ce courriel parmi les membres de votre département ainsi qu’auprès de vos étudiants aux cycles supérieurs. Merci.)


Les Ateliers Montréalais de Réflexions sur l’Art et l’Esthétique consacrent leurs deux prochaines séances au cinéma! Cela commence dès cette semaine avec la présentation de Marc Fursteneau (Film Studies, Carlton) ce jeudi à 20h dans la salle 404 du Thomson House (3650 McTavish). Le titre de sa présentation est:

“Film, Art, Technology: Between Theory and Aesthetics”

Deux semaines plus tard, soit le 5 novembre à la même heure et au même endroit, c’est André Habib (Études cinématographiques, Université de Montréal) qui entretiendra les participants des AMRAE à propos de thèmes reliés à la cinéphilie, à la technologie, à l’histoire et à la mélancolie.

Au plaisir de vous y voir!


The Montreal Reflections on Art and Aesthetics Workshop are dedicating their next two meetings to cinema! We begin this very week with a presentation by Marc Fursteneau (Film Studies, Carlton) this Thursday, 8pm, in room 404 of the Thomson House (3650 McTavish). His presentation’s title is:

“Film, Art, Technology: Between Theory and Aesthetics”

Also, same hour and same place on November 5th, André Habib (Études cinématographiques, Université de Montréal) will be giving a talk on themes related to cinephilia, technology, history and melancholia.

Looking forward to seeing you there.


Olivier Mathieu


“Film, Art, Technology: Between Theory and Aesthetics”

Marc Furstenau

School for Studies in Art and Culture, Carleton University, Ottawa


Over the last century or so, philosphers of art have, for various reasons, shown little sustained interest in the medium of film. As a result, a separate and relatively autonomous field of film theory has emerged, which has itself shown little interest in the sorts of questions posed by the philosophy of art. The separate but parallel development of these two domains of aesthetic inquiry has recently received some attanetion by those who are undertaking to recount the history of film theory. David Rodowick has remarked upon film theory’s conceptual autonomy in a recent essay. As early as 1924, he notes, Béla Balázs, writing in German, called for a Theorie des Films, and, “from this moment forward,” he says, “one would rarely speak of film aesthetics or a philosophy of film, but rather, always, of film theory.” This, argues Rodowick, is “representative of a nineteenth-century tendency in German philosophies of art to portray aesthetics as a Wissenschaft, comparable in method and epistemology to the natural sciences.” The study of film has never really been “scientific,” though – despite the ambitions of some. As Rodowick notes, the “theory” in film theory is related more to “the Greek sense of theoria as viewing, speculation, or the contemplative life,” than to the modern, scientific sense of theory. But the new medium of film did seem to call for a separate and distinct kind of analysis. As a new, technological art form, film seemed to require a more “theoretical” approach, and film theorists have kept strictly “aesthetic” issues more or less at bay. Recently, though, interest has turned to questions of film’s effects on human perception and experience, and, through various theoretical elaboarations on cinematic affect, “film theory” has returned to certain basic issues of aesthetics, as originally conceived by Alexander Baumgarten and others in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, who saw “aesthetics” as a general inquiry into perception and experience. In this paper, I will trace the historical development of theories of film, and link contemporary developments in the field to issues that pre-date contemporary philosophies of art. Through a more careful consideration of the actual links between film theory and the philosophy of art, I argue, a more detailed account of the cinematic experience may begin to be elaborated.


Marc Furstenau is Assistant Professor of Film Studies in the School for Studies in Art and Culture, Carleton University, Ottawa. He has also taught in Germany and the UK, and at Concordia University in Montreal. He has just completed editing an anthology of key essays in the history of film theory, The Film Theory Reader: Debates and Arguments, to be published this year by Routledge. He is presently working on a book tracing the history of the idea of technology in film theory. He has also published and lectured on the the themes of technology in the films of Terrence Malick and Werner Herzog, and on the broader technological character of cinematic culture.

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