The Bradbury Building - Cinematic Fetish Location
Abstract: Arguably, architecture recorded through the cinematic apparatus provides an intersection between multiple understandings of fetish. The Bradbury Building in cinematic representation is the signifier which denies its signified (the actual building) and therefore creates a fetish in its synecdochic relationship between reality and representation. Jean Baudrillard affirms that this kind of fetish represents a ‘passion for the code’ – an empowerment through acts of abstract manipulation on subjects and objects and a “fundamental articulation of the ideological process” (Baudrillard, 91-101). The multiplicity of understandings on the term ‘fetish’ constitutes a semantic distortion for Baudrillard. The distortion that Baudrillard outlines aptly explains fetish in architecture. The cathedral once acted as a symbolic node of power to evoke the presence of God. In cinema, the Bradbury Building is used to evoke the presence of cinema as a symbolic node of power – the cinematic representation of architecture constitutes the fetish, the actual building denotes nothing. The Bradbury Building is a conduit for ideas of cinema and can thus be referred to as an architectural fetish object as well as cinematic fetish location.
Renoir and The Apparatus - Cinematic Panopticism
Abstract: M. Lange, up to the point of this entr’acte had carefully constructed a diegetic space under established principles of ‘panopticism’. The apparatus had arranged its position as ‘overseer’ of the diegetic space, locating both a central pivot for inspection (the centre of the courtyard) as well as constructing the relationship between ‘cells’ and between the cells and this central pivot (rooms in the court). The rupture in spatial logic through the direct address may seem haphazard or confusing, but I would like to suggest that it is a testament to the forward-thinking and highly-intuitive Jean Renoir as a stylistic master. In fact, the direct address is employed aptly in recognition of a critical limitation in Benthamite conceptions of panopticism – with elements of mobility present, the gazer must also become the gazed-upon in controlling and constructing the space.
Closed Texts and Passive Masses - An Examination of the Television Host as ‘Re-encoder’
Abstract: Semiotic analysis of ‘encoding/decoding’ processes can reveal the television host as a mediator/intermediary, who “re-encodes” meaning in the flow of information. This paper intends to show that ‘re-encoding’ by the television host renders the audience aware of preferred readings which in turn functions to hermeneutically close the text. The host renders a text closed through denying ‘aberrant decoding’ by the audience – interpretation has restrictions through the host making aware the preferred reading originally encoded. The television host as intermediary restricts audience choice which I hope to demonstrate through two case studies – an interview with television host, Fred ‘Fearless’ Kennedy and a second interview with television producer, Jonas Bell-Pasht.* When choice is restricted at the semiotic level through the presence of the host, television experience can render the audience a passive mass much in the way that Arnheim fears at the medium’s birth in the 1930s.
The Ambivalent Objects in Jan Svankmajer’s Lesson Faust
Abstract: Jan Svankmajer’s cinematic animation of puppets and use of life-sized puppets renders a situation where animated objects have a dominant function that is separate from their pragmatic function. This plurality of function constitutes dynamic characteristics for the object whereby the object has an ambivalent status at the semiotic level – the object can also be a subject. Cinematic animation and cinema specific properties and techniques such as editing, framing or superimposition foreground this plurality of an object’s function by altering its spatiotemporal context and allowing it to be liberated from its recognition as a prop of the mise-en-scene. The Faust tradition foregrounds the plurality of function for the object most near and dear to us – our bodies – when Faust challenges the supernatural world into manipulating the body’s natural relationship with the course of time. Svankmajer’s Lesson Faust (1994) adeptly negotiates the complexities of a discourse on the dramatic and semiological process of objects becoming subjects (and vice-versa) while foregrounding the ambivalence surrounding such ‘transformations’. Cinematic animation (technological), puppets (material) and the Faust tradition (narrative) can each be demonstrated as modes of presentation which actively endow objects with dominant functions separate from their pragmatic function thus creating ambivalence for the object at the semiotic level.
The Xenomorph Project: Taxonomy of the Creature; Textuality of the Alien
Abstract: *course design + syllabus* In brief summary, the preparation of a proposed syllabus for examining the textuality of the xenomorph reveals an expansive discourse on the Alien franchise and its key figure. The Alien franchise is ever-growing , lending strength to the thesis that the xenomorph is a rich textual object of media. After completion of the reading list and assignments, the goal would be to turn to Henry Jenkins’s work on ‘fan-text poaching’ in order to distinguish the hermeneutical relationship between ‘fan texts’ and ‘franchise texts’. The xenomorph can potentially be shown to have a varied textual quality (both open and closed) depending on the media and texts in which the xenomorph is represented and discussed. This claim could prove to be valuable to the general discourse on textuality, semiotics and hermeneutics.
Toward an Open System: The Prismatic Orson Welles
Abstract: For Rosenbaum, the historiography of Welles’s oeuvre should reflect a remediation of the textual and extra-textual factors of that history which can potentially be achieved through a prismatic methodology which organizes old and new, speculative and factual, words and actions to be focused for analysis and then historical (re-)construction. A complete picture of Welles (encompassing all textual and extra-textual facts, factors and interactions) will never form, but that is inherent in the concept of remediation, while the prismatic methodological approach to Wellesian historiography is apt for history’s inherent pluralistic nature.
Fritters and Jitters – The Proper Analysis of a Guy Maddin Artifact
Abstract: Guy Maddin is recognized as one of the most enigmatic filmmakers working today and is often compared (ironically, in reductive terms) to Luis Bunuel and David Lynch. Maddin’s films are complex and expound the affective dimensions of surrealism in terms that are not yet well-rehearsed academically. Comparisons of Maddin to other filmmakers will always be found wanting. That being said, his films do evoke the photogenic energy of Abel Gance and Maddin has also made remarks that he was guided early on by Josef von Sternberg. There is a cornucopia of inspiration ever-present in Maddin’s oeuvre. Once this encyclopedic referential quality of Maddin’s films is accepted on its own terms, the notion of categorizing his work as kitsch or camp becomes absurd. Maddin is a mad scientist in the cinematic laboratory (a Docteur Tube, if you will), always working in experimental stages, always inventing – always theorizing. For Maddin, nothing is complete and his work will always be haunted by the ghosts of what-might-have-been – the experimental failures that never were because a formula was achieved and the trials moved on. The absurd of Guy Maddin’s work lies in the fact that what is presented could have been presented a thousand different ways. The tension of Maddin presenting merely one way is played out through juxtapositions in the narrative and editing giving rise to a sense of absurdity. The absurd is an affective reaction by audiences who must disavow experiencing a Maddin film as the myriad of narratives that it really is.
Nazism in Hollywood – A Historiographical Comparative Analysis of Two Accounts
Abstract: A telling demonstration of this plurality and intersection in methodological models of film history can be achieved through a comparative analysis of two historical accounts on the ‘collusion’ between Hollywood and the Nazi regime in the 1930s. These accounts are Ben Urwand’s The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler and Thomas Doherty’s Hollywood and Hitler: 1933-1939. These two historical accounts provide compelling insight into the operations of the film industry of the United States in the 1930s and 40s. The separate accounts share an understanding of how particular historiographical explanatory arguments structure history, but each account puts a different emphasis on these arguments.
Consulting the Archive – Exploring Nelvana’s Care Bears Night-Light
Abstract: The Tenderheart night-light is an artifact with historical significance because its ‘flaws’ suggest that it may have been a prototype or a first-run of manufacturing in a more successful series. There are historically significant questions to be asked regarding the importance of saving prototypes for entertainment brands as they might reveal developments and a set of priorities in the branding . In a media archive, ephemera can be understood as ‘dependent’ artifacts which can contextualize other artifacts, but require contextualization themselves.
Gears of War – On Modes of Representation Through Analysis of Cinematic Cut-Scenes
Abstract: *Annotated Bibliography* Gears of War Judgment was released in 2013 and critics were quick to match the reaction of the fans of the Gears series – Epic Games had laid an egg. How can a game franchise go from legitimately competitive at the top of the industry, rivaling the top game console franchise of all time (Halo) to critical bomb ratings and total depopulation online? My project seeks to answer this question through examining modes of representation - aesthetic and cultural - created through the cinematic cut-scenes of the Gears of War games.