Marie Christine Kohler Fellows Co-sponsor Herzog Documentary for Wisconsin Film Fest

The conveniences of the “internet of things” allow us to remotely check if the garage door is closed or have our phones signal the coffee maker to start brewing when we hit the snooze in the morning, but what are the implications of these conveniences? Is there such thing as being too connected? How is the internet shaping the future of humanity?

This Tuesday, April 19th at 6:30pm, the Kohler Fellows at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery will host a screening of Werner Herzog’s latest documentary, Lo & Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (2016) at the Sundance Theater in collaboration with the Wisconsin Film Festival. The film is “an examination of the existential impact of the internet, robotics, AI, the internet of things, and more, on human life” and was nominated for Best Documentary at the recent Cleveland International Film Festival.

Award winning director, writer, and producer, Werner Herzog, known for his stories of man against nature, sweeping landscape shots, and background cello scores, self narrates his documentary with wry humor. The ten chapters of the documentary include interviews with Elon Musk, artificial intelligence scientists and common people who have had their lives changed by this technology.

Following the screening, the Kohler Fellows at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery have organized a panel discussion featuring University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty scholars from a range of disciplines across campus whose academic work speaks to the themes of this film. They are experts at the exciting, and sometimes alarming, intersection of humanity and digital technology.

Included on the panel are:


Robert Glenn Howard

Professor, Rhetoric, Politics and Culture.

– Online expression and human agency.



Kevin Ponto

Assistant Professor, Design Studies, Living Environments Laboratory.

– Virtual reality and human-computer interactions.



Catalina Toma

Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences.

– The impact of communication technologies on relationships.



Christina Matta

Assistant Faculty Associate, Technical Communication Program, Engineering Professional Development.

– Social and ethical impacts of technology.


According to Kevin Ponto, all the panelists will be seeing the film for the first time with the audience. “I think the intention is for all of us to watch this with fresh eyes.” He is looking forward to the discussion and a lively exchange of ideas.

“The topic seemed simultaneously thought-provoking, scary, and fun…the perfect combo for a panel discussion.”

-Josh Pultorak

The current group of eight Marie Christine Kohler Fellows range in discipline from bat virology to the intersection of nineteenth century poetry and science to ultrasonic vocal communication of mice. Each is dedicated to fostering dialogue across disciplinary boundaries. As a team, their mission is to connect researchers across traditionally disparate fields and to bridge the University with the community at large. They do this by organizing a variety of campus and community events, performances, and workshops with interdisciplinary themes.

A couple of the Fellows had worked with the Wisconsin Film Festival in the past and felt a collaboration would be a natural way to promote building these bridges so they reached out. The film festival came back and asked if they would be willing to co-sponsor a discussion. According to Fellows spokesperson Josh Pultorak, “We selected this one because Herzog’s style as a director is so unique and the topic seemed simultaneously thought-provoking, scary, and fun…the perfect combo for a panel discussion.

Although online sales for this event have ended, rush tickets may be available at Sundance Cinemas 15 minutes before showtime. Get more information about the Wisconsin Film Festival.

Patricia Pointer