Trevor Mowchun

Assistant Professor

While my primary field of expertise is film studies, including a research-creation component in experimental narrative filmmaking, my interdisciplinary background branches out into the fields of philosophy, literature, art history, poetics and visual culture. My involvement in the various thought experiments and interdisciplinary dialogues of film-philosophy in particular has made it possible for me to think beyond what the two fields can do for each other to what they can do together. My dissertation entitled Metaphysics and the Moving Image, the recipient of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada doctoral fellowship, proposes that the distinct historical trajectories of film and philosophy converge in the Western paradigm of metaphysics. Through a series of investigations or “excavations” of the metaphysical legacy of the moving image, I arrive at the conclusion that in philosophy metaphysical thinking tends to result in conceptual abstraction or confusion, whereas cinema enacts the very object of metaphysical thought and, depending on how the medium is mobilized, can bring about the audiovisual clarity of the everyday. I recently presented my doctoral research at two film studies conferences in a paper entitled “The Death of God, the Birth of Film, and the New Metaphysics.” I have also published essays on contingency in film, the presence of nature in The Thin Red Line, and the digressive character of the moving image in relation to the art of painting.

Various aspects of my scholarly research intersect with my work as a filmmaker where I experiment with what I call “cinematic consciousness”—the film’s own thought process directing, questioning and self-examining the narrative logic and ostensible subject matter. I recently completed my first experimental dramatic feature film called World to Come, produced with grant support from The Canada Council for the Arts. I describe the film as a fragmented, affective and temporally striated mapping of the “psycho-geography” of a disenchanted religious community living amidst the aftermath of widespread social trauma. My next experimental dramatic feature is about a disillusioned historian who goes in search of his ancestral past, leading the medium of film itself into an encounter with its photographic origins. This hybrid film project is currently in development with research-creation support from CCA. I am also interested in exploring videographic criticism and look forward to realizing projects on “mystical film experiences” and the impact of competing digital media platforms on the overall consciousness of movie-watching. Whether as a film scholar or maker, I am committed to exploring the idea that film can think the world, especially time, in a philosophical, historiographical and above all critical way, through audiovisual configurations which intervene in the fabric of our everyday experience.

I regularly present my scholarly work internationally at conferences such as Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Film Studies Association of Canada, and Film-Philosophy, and screen my films at festivals throughout North America. I teach courses on the theory and practice of moving image production, in addition to an interdisciplinary course on contemporary visual culture in which students can develop their written essays into film essays.

Professor Mowchun’s CV

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