Reality And Subjectivity: Digital Films as Cyborg Texts in a Post-Modern World


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A look at how early fully-digital films are cyborg texts and represent a society that is full of cyborg citizens, with hybrid identities and boundaries.

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Reality And Subjectivity: Digital Films as Cyborg Texts in a Post-Modern World

  1. 1. Reality and Subjectivity Digital Films as Cyborg Texts in a Post-Modern World
  2. 2. Purpose <ul><li>To examine the potential of digital film as a historical marker of society in the 21 st century. </li></ul><ul><li>To consider possible inroads and obstacles cyborgism face. </li></ul><ul><li>On a macro level, it’s a basic test on how cyborgism is in action, and how it is received so far. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Cyborg Theory <ul><li>The cyborg, as Donna Haraway describes it, is a “cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction” (1991:151). In its most literal sense, the cyborg is a combination of the organic and machine, creating a symbiotic relationship between two seemingly irreconcilable things. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Cyborg Theory/Post-Modernism <ul><li>Cyborgism </li></ul><ul><li>Committed to partiality, irony, liminality, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Embodies irony and contradiction. </li></ul><ul><li>Is a combination of ‘fiction’ and ‘reality’. </li></ul><ul><li>One key theme is that the cyborg resists the binary by inhabiting both ‘machine’ and ‘organic’. </li></ul><ul><li>Post Modernism </li></ul><ul><li>Rejects boundaries between high and low forms of art. </li></ul><ul><li>Rejects rigid distinctions. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasizes parody, irony, playfulness. </li></ul><ul><li>Favors ambiguity, fragmentation, and simultaneity. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasizes destructured, decentered subjects </li></ul>
  5. 5. Points of Consideration <ul><li>While it displays hybridity, it also highlights dependency. </li></ul><ul><li>Cyborg theory is a contradictory idea. It attempts to break free of boundaries, yet it is limited by its own boundaries. </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Fact/Fiction are both separate, and inseparable at the same time. </li></ul>
  6. 6. What is a ‘digital’ film? <ul><li>It is shot in digital format, with a digital backdrop. </li></ul><ul><li>The technology began with Star Wars: Episode 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Subsequently adopted by several young directors as it was cheap and convenient. </li></ul><ul><li>Early fully digital films include Sin City, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Immortel, Casshern. </li></ul>
  7. 8. Why Digital Film? <ul><li>Film can be used as a historical marker. Films pander to the times. </li></ul><ul><li>Digital technology is extremely effective in breaking down boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>CGI has often been used to create the ‘unreal’. Digital films, employs digital technology in an extreme way. </li></ul>
  8. 9. Digital Film Today <ul><li>Digital films are advanced means of fusing reality and fiction and presenting it as a whole. </li></ul><ul><li>Digital films are good examples of cyborg expression – visually and thematically. </li></ul>
  9. 10. Digital Film/Cyborgism <ul><li>This research is an attempt to see where these films ‘pander’ to in today’s world. </li></ul><ul><li>How effective has digital film been in promoting cyborg ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>It specifically deals with the relationship between ‘reality’ and ‘fiction’. </li></ul>
  10. 11. Three Case Studies
  11. 12. Mirrormask <ul><li>Mirrormask deals with a girl whose adventure in her own dream has a direct impact on how events in the real world will transpire. </li></ul><ul><li>Somewhat like The Wizard of Oz, Mirrormask utilizes imageries and designs that explores the relationship between reality and fiction. </li></ul>
  12. 14. Mirrormask <ul><li>The key plot includes an exchange of positions between the protagonist and antagonist. It is a clear picture of mixing reality and fiction. </li></ul><ul><li>That exchange, however, was not approved, and was subsequently reversed in a violent manner. In the end, the boundaries of reality and fiction is re-established. </li></ul>
  13. 15. Sin City <ul><li>A comic book translation into film. It is made up of four separate storylines that intertwine with each other. </li></ul><ul><li>It is set in a crime ridden city. Old Town, in particular, is the focus of this case study. </li></ul>
  14. 16. Sin City – Old Town Prostitutes <ul><li>The prostitutes of old town does not fully conform to traditional stereotypes. </li></ul>
  15. 17. Old Town Prostitutes <ul><li>“ The sex industry relies on the assumption that the female associated with female traits have less value, represent the flesh, and can be reduced to commodities.” Brock 1996:234 </li></ul>
  16. 18. Old Town Prostitutes <ul><li>In Sin City, the prostitutes are violators and resistive of the ‘official’ authorities who seek to control them. </li></ul><ul><li>These prostitutes can be considered as cyborgs due to their ironic nature. </li></ul>
  17. 19. The Prostitutes’ Paradox <ul><li>Becky, a younger prostitute, betrayed the gang because the old stereotypes reasserted itself. </li></ul><ul><li>Her reason for her betrayal is, “Sure there is money. Sure you could’ve moved my mom into Old Town and let her know that her own goddamn daughter is a whore.” </li></ul>
  18. 20. Beowulf <ul><li>The term ‘animation’ was contested due to the film’s motion capture technology. </li></ul><ul><li>The motion capture technology used brought about a more heated debate: Angelina Jolie. </li></ul><ul><li>The big question people asked: Is Angelina Jolie naked in a film that was only PG-13? </li></ul>
  19. 22. Beowulf – Grendel’s Mama <ul><li>Jolie, while filming, was in a blue suit (not naked). </li></ul><ul><li>In post-production, Grendel was made (naked). </li></ul><ul><li>Beowulf tests the boundaries of film censorship in Western cinema with gore and nudity in a genre traditionally associated with ‘children’. </li></ul><ul><li>The reception was not so great. </li></ul>
  20. 23. Possible Significance <ul><li>Are we really living in a ‘cyborgian’ era? Are we really ushering into what some people believe to be a post-modern age? </li></ul><ul><li>Perhaps progress is made, but we need to take into account the reception of the general populace. </li></ul><ul><li>So far, this is based on the observation of these digital films and its production values. </li></ul>
  21. 24. Future <ul><li>Further results through more extensive audience research? </li></ul><ul><li>This field is changing rapidly, so are the definitions. It’s very difficult to nail the ‘latest’ trend. </li></ul><ul><li>Will these cyborg themes continue to be explored or will this genre be shelved and phased out? </li></ul>