The Density of Mountains – Alpine Media Networks

Benita Lehmann

Mountains frequently serve as emblems of untouched, pristine nature, as antidotes to busy-city life, or remote sites of vital resources. Paradoxically, such mediations of sublime remoteness emerge from dense socio-cultural, economic, technological, and aesthetic networks. This project sets out to explore the connection between alpine media networks in and of mountain cinema during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It contributes to understanding our fascination with mountains in film culture by examining the densities of alpine media networks.

Rather than viewing mountains as white zones of vacuity or simply as an empty canvas for romantic imaginations, this dissertation explores mountains as places of accumulated density and as prevailing agents that are deeply embedded and invested with networks. Bringing together a number of interdisciplinary perspectives on density, this project sets out to investigate alpine networks through cinematic representations of mountains. As so much of our perception of mountains relies on the circuits of mountain images, we can only fully appreciate mountains and their cultural significance if we study the ecological networks that link mountains and media.

In order to understand cinematic mountains, this project seeks to analyze alpine media networks in which cinematic mountains can be considered as network hubs and dense neuralgic network points through an interdisciplinary framework of densities. Based on the premise that mountains and cities as well as cinematic mountains are organized in networks, studying their production, distribution and consumption can help us to uncover intersections, divergences, and hidden networks that inform our encounters with mountains.

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