A missed encounter between species. The interplay of scientific realism and aesthetics in Painlevé’s cinematographic experiments on the octopus

Silvia Casini


Jean Painlevé’s films blend aesthetic concerns and scientific realism operating a micro-turn within the broader cinematographic turn that occurred in the sciences in the 20th century. By engaging with his films on the octopus, an animal studied to illuminate human consciousness and firmly grounded in the popular imagina-tion through literature and the arts, this article demonstrates how Painlevé em-braced a politics of life organised around the concept of a missed encounter be-tween life forms.


Aesthetic and scientific realism; Missed encounter; Octopus

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