The Celluloid Specimen

December 2022 Issue

Our last issue of the year is an analogic trip down memory lane. In the book with the same title, the author Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa examines twentieth-century behaviorist films that captured animal experiments, revealing the central role of cinema in generating psycho-social definitions of species, race, identity, and culture that continue to shape our contemporary political and scientific discourses.

Our focus here is on the very nature of the specimen. It instantly becomes a contradiction when it is imprinted on celluloid: living, non-living, preserved, damaged, natural, artificial - all at once. A specimen encompasses the animal, plant or organic fragment that collectively serve as evidence for an existing, forgotten or future species or ecosystem. A specimen is often a (proto)type for scientific study or display.

Welcome to our Cabinet of Curiosities : our collection of beautiful film-sensitive by-products that have evolved since the first light exposure. The frames feels like a genetic code that  have mutated into new forms and shapes. Traces of animal life, landscapes that appear frozen in time, subliminal images with signs of wear and tear, all existing on the black and white or color-sensitive film stocks. They're calling on digital age for protection and have landed in the Science New Wave.

Are the individual pieces found footage or archive? Is the ensemble seemingly curated or perhaps a jumble that provides us new meanings and viewing experiences?

Curated by Alexis Gambis