Dr. Seth Barry Watter
Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät
eikones – Zentrum für die Theorie und Geschichte des Bildes


Rheinsprung 9/11
4051 Basel

Tel. +41 207 56 07

Seth Barry Watter is a film and media historian. Before coming to eikones, he taught at various schools in New York City, including Brooklyn College and the Pratt Institute, where he was Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities and Media Studies from 2019 to 2020. He received his PhD in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University in 2017 for his dissertation, The Human Figure on Film: Natural, Pictorial, Institutional, Fictional, which he is now revising for inclusion in the “Horizons of Cinema” series with SUNY Press. It combines archival, textual, and metacritical approaches to the subject of figuration, or what becomes of “the body” when filmed and made available as an object of study. His second book project, which he will pursue at eikones, grows directly out of the first (both have chapters on Ray L. Birdwhistell, the pioneer of “kinesics” or body motion study). This second project is titled Nothing Never Happens: Interaction Measurement since 1900, and portions of the work in progress have appeared in the journal Grey Room (no. 66, no. 79) and the edited volume Seeing Science: How Photography Reveals the Universe (ed. Marvin Heiferman, Aperture, 2019). Based on intensive archival research,  Nothing Never Happens is a history of how the concept “interaction” gained traction in American social science and, in consequence, how it came to rely increasingly on instrumentation: film, photography, reel-to-reel tape, the “Interaction Chronograph,” and other machines of fine-grained inscription in addition to the older methods of spot maps, notebooks, and introspection from the armchair. As a relief from historical work, Seth also continues to write on art and film for periodicals such as Screening the Past and Millennium Film Journal.