Pascal Schwaighofer: Rough Cut(s)

A series of desktop popup windows showing different animal-like creatures.

image / Pascal Schwaighofer


In recent years, numerous scientific magazines enthusiastically reported the discovery of bacterial enzymes capable of manipulating specific DNA sequences, a process called gene editing. Since then, a range of terms and expressions to describe film editing has become increasingly common in the biology jargon.

Gene editing, film editing? What really connects cinema and bioengineering? On its most fundamental level, film editing is the technique of assembling shots into a coherent sequence, or in other words, bringing many single images into movements and finally into life. If the recent gene technologies provide the ability to edit, add, activate, or suppress specific genes, film editing gives editors the means of recomposing and “re-inventing” an entire (Hi)story—an analogy that reduces the conceptual and epistemological distance between the two technologies. 

The exhibition explores the space of contact between film and bioengineering, presenting an assemblage of found footage, interviews, and educational 3D animations. Titled Rough Cut(s), the video essay invites us to rethink the cut as a conceptual and aesthetic category that articulates comparative logic and enables powerful yet uncanny similitudes. 

The video production was supported by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and the Cornell Council of the Arts (CCA), U.S.A.


Pascal Schwaighofer is a multi- and interdisciplinary artist, a Mellon Graduate Fellow at the Society for the Humanities, and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. His research is grounded in environmental humanities, visual culture, and critical theory, and pursues an artistic practice focused on the comparative strategies of technology and aesthetics. His artworks have been acquired by private and public collections and exhibited in major European museums, such as the Aargauer Kunsthaus (Switzerland); Kunstmuseum Luzern (Switzerland); Kolumba Museum (Cologne, Germany); MAGA museum (Gallarate, Italy); Centre Culturel Suisse (Paris, France); Center of Contemporary Art (Plovdiv, Bulgaria), and many others. In collaboration with art curator Jan Verwoert, Schwaighofer is the author of Tulipmania, a publication focusing on the link between contemporary aesthetics and the abstract economy of tulips in the 17th century.

Attribution and Acknowledgement

The Rough Cut(s) exhibit makes transformational use of certain content for the purposes of teaching, learning, comment, social and cultural critique, and/or pedagogical analysis and observation; the Exhibitor wishes to gratefully acknowledge those creators whose content has been included in the exhibition:

9 Cuts Every Video Editor Should Know. Dir. Logan Baker. Shutterstock Tutorials, 2018; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
B&W Documentary Short About Movie Cameramen. Producers Library, 1940; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
B&W 1900s. Producers Library, 1940; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Altering the human genome in 3D. Science Magazine, 2015; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Biology: Cell Structure. Nucleus Medical Media, 2015; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Bronenosets Potyomkin (Battleship Potemk)i. Dir. Sergei Eisenstein. Mosfilm, 1925
CRISPR-Cas9 was first discovered in bacteria. Day's Edge Production, hhmi Biointeractive, 2018 (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
CRISPR: Gene editing and beyond. Nature Video, 2017; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Demonstration of a 16mm Ciro Guillotine Tape Splicer (clip 28). Dir. Tom Davenport, 2013; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
DNA Animation (2002-2014). Dir. Drew Berry, Etsuko Uno.; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Fight Club. Dir. David Fincher. 20th Century Fox, 1999
From DNA to protein. Polymime Studio, 2015; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Greg Licholai, PRA Health Services: Is CRISPR Worth the Risk? Yale School of Management, 2018 (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
How Gene Editing Could Be Used for Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 2016; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Ici et ailleurs (Here and Elsewhere). Directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Anne Marie Miéville, 1976
Inside the Living Cell. Dir. Hashem Al-Gahili. 2018; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Jarhead. Dir. Sam Mendes. Universal Pictures, 2005
Let's go tot he Movies. Ampas Documentary Production of Hollywood Feature Films. Periscope Film, 1949; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Multi Scale Modeling of Chromatin and Nucleosomes. SCLS-Channel, 2016; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Notre Musique (Our Music). Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 2003
Promise and peril of gene-editing technology CRISPR. CBS Mornings, 2015; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Spider-Man. Dir. Sam Raimi. Columbia Pictures, 2002
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman. Columbia Pictures, 2018.
Splicing and Dicing DNA: Genome Engineering and the CRISPR Revolution. World Science Festival, 2016; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Television Training: Video Tape Editing. Dir. Ian Curtis. BBC Films, 1967
The Amazing Spider-Man. Dir. E. W. Swackhamer. Columbia Pictures, 1977
The Amazing Spider-Man. Dir. Marc Webb. Columbia Pictures, 2012.
The Biography of the Motion Picture. Dir. Roger Leenhard. A.F. Films / Les Films du Compas, 1950; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing. Dir. Appel, Wendy. BBC Four, 2005.
The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (Die Macht der Bilder: Leni Riefenstahl). Dir. Ray Müller. Arte, 1993
Tron: Legacy. Dir. Joseph Kosinski. Walt Disney Pictures, 2010
Un chien andalous (An Andalusian Dog). Dir. Luis Buñuel, 1929
Undressing Extraordinary. Dir. Walter R. Booth, 1901; (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Walter Murch, The significance of good editing (283/320). Web of Stories, 2017 (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
Watch science writer Carl Zimmer explain CRISPR in 90 seconds. Business Insider, 2015 (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
What is gene editing and how does it work? Wellcome Trust, 2016, (Accessed: 22 January 2023)
What's New in Premiere Rush CC. Adobe Creative Cloud, 2018, (Accessed: 22 January 2023)

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Tuesday, February 14, 5 p.m.

This is a public event, please allow yourself to arrive 15 minutes before the roundtable begins to watch the screening.

Ongoing video screening (loop): 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Roundtable Participants

Professor Andrea Bachner (Comparative Literature)

Professor Karen Pinkus (Comparative Literature) 

Professor Bruce V. Lewenstein (Communication and Science and Technology Studies)

Pascal Schwaighofer (Comparative Literature)

Related Links
Personal Website

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