Nicolas Roeg’s Perversion of Suture

Nicolas Roeg has died at the age of 90. People will remember him for a striking form of vision embodied in the many films that he directed or filmed as cinematographer. For me, this vision is nowhere more poignantly indicated than in his uncannily self-reflexive masterpiece Don’t Look Now (1973), in which he undermines conventions of cinematic sight through subtly shocking POV shots that align the camera and our eyes with the perspectives of inanimate objects (such as the doll above) or sightless characters (the blind woman whose vision structures a crucial scene in the film, as I argue in my interactive video essay on it: “Don’t Look Now: Paradoxes of Suture”).

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Nonhuman Perspectives and Discorrelated Images in Post-Cinema

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As I mentioned recently, I will be speaking next week at the Post-Cinematic Perspectives conference taking place November 22-23, 2013 at the Free University Berlin. Below you’ll find the abstract for my talk:

Nonhuman Perspectives and Discorrelated Images in Post-Cinema

Shane Denson

With the shift to a digital and more generally post-cinematic media environment, moving images have undergone what I term their “discorrelation” from human embodied subjectivities and (phenomenological, narrative, and visual) perspectives. Clearly, we still look at – and we still perceive – images that in many ways resemble those of a properly cinematic age; yet many of these images are mediated in ways that subtly (or imperceptibly) undermine the distance of perspective, i.e. the quasi-spatial distance and relation between phenomenological subjects and the objects of their perception. At the center of these transformations are a set of strangely irrational mediators and “crazy” cameras – physical and virtual imaging apparatuses that seem not to know their place with respect to diegetic and nondiegetic realities, and that therefore fail to situate viewers in a coherently designated spectating-position. A phenomenological and post-phenomenological analysis of such mediating apparatuses points to the rise of a fundamentally post-perceptual media regime, in which “contents” and “perspectives” are ancillary to algorithmic functions and enmeshed in an expanded, indiscriminately articulated plenum of images that exceed capture in the form of photographic or perceptual “objects.” Post-cinema’s cameras thus mediate a nonhuman ontology of computational image production, processing, and circulation, where these images’ discorrelation from human perceptibility signals an expansion of the field of material affect: beyond the visual or even the perceptual, the images of post-cinematic media operate and impinge upon us at what might be called a “metabolic” level.

Post-Cinematic Perspectives

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On November 22-23, 2013, I will be participating in the conference “Post-Cinematic Perspectives,” which is being organized by Lisa Åkervall and Chris Tedjasukmana at the Freie Universität Berlin. There’s a great line-up, as you’ll see on the conference program above. I look forward to seeing Steven Shaviro again (and hearing his talk on Spring Breakers), and to meeting all the other speakers. My talk, on the morning of the 23rd, is entitled “Nonhuman Perspectives and Discorrelated Images in Post-Cinema.” The conference is open to the public, and attendance is free.