Name: Jonathan Harris
College: Wolfson College
Supervisor: Prof JD Rhodes
Topic: Plasticators: New materials in mid-century experimental filmmaking
Jonathan’s research responds to plastic materials and the aesthetics of the ‘plasticky’ as they appear in the work of three mid-twentieth-century experimental filmmakers: Mary Ellen Bute, Jim Davis and Jeff Keen. Insofar as film phenomenology tends to appeal to baroque folds, reversibility, authenticity and the arts and crafts, it fails to account for the photogenic qualities of synthetics; their flatness, cheapness, inertness and worldlessness. In his doctoral research project, Jonathan undertakes close readings of his chosen filmmakers’ works, informed by the material (and associated design, art, and architectural) histories of the plastic artefacts with which they were made. It is hoped that each chapter will offer possibilities for thinking through the ways in which the materials, films, and the respective modes of work and transformation they call forth reflect broader concerns about science, nature and politics in the years immediately prior to and following the Second World War.