Rebecca Boguska (Mainz)

Epistemic Encounters

Moving Images of Water Waves

The opening sequence of Harun Farocki's Images of the World and the Inscription of War (1988) shows us neither war nor the world as we know it. Instead, it is an image of the large wave channel in Hanover accompanied by a voiceover telling us how one can be moved by the perception of sea waves, even if one encounters them in such an unfamiliar milieu. However, rather than being solely about the sea or the study of its movements, Farocki also seems to position this scenography as a metaphor for film's chief principle: the mediation of movement.

Departing from this sequence and such metaphorical understandings of water on the move, this paper dives into various film histories in search for other epistemic encounters between filmic cameras and water waves. In particular, it raises the following question: how, instead of thinking about water waves in terms of a metaphor for moving images, can we acknowledge the multiple, fluid ways in which films think (with) sea and ocean waves? In order to deliver a preliminary answer to this question and to be able to speculate about what it is that films "know[…] through the seascape," this paper discusses a broad range of nonhuman perspectives on water waves in ethnographic, experimental and (science-)fiction films.