Corporeal frames: Found-footage horror and the dis-located image Event as iCalendar

(Media and Communication, School of Social Sciences)

18 May 2018

1 - 2pm

Venue: Pat Hanan Room, Arts 2 (207-501)

Dr Allan Cameron | Media and Communication

Often maligned as cheap and unsophisticated, ‘found-footage’ horror films such as Paranormal Activity (2007), Cloverfield (2008) and Unfriended (2014) offer an intensive, and often surprisingly developed, formal reflection on the frame’s capacity to capture and articulate bodily relations. In these films, video cameras, wielded by the characters themselves or installed as instruments of surveillance, are central elements of the story. Whether by accident or design, these cameras become our interface to the diegetic world, used to reveal evidence of a poltergeist, capture the damage wrought by a rampaging monster, or relay the ‘live’ content of video chat sessions. Bodies (whether of monsters, victims or camera operators) are repeatedly ‘de-framed’, appearing not simply at or beyond the edge of the image, but also ‘behind’ it. The video frame, as epistemological and phenomenological boundary, thus serves as an ontological hinge articulating relations  between (embodied) camera operators, victims and viewers. The frame, however, is not the only signifying boundary in these films: the infrastructure of mediation provides an array of inputs, outputs and formats, which inscribe their own material limits. Here, a crucial structuring principle is that of the ‘media differential’. Such films thrive on productive spatiotemporal misalignments among recording and viewing, digital and analogue media, and human and technological vision. Yet rather than establishing some core ontological difference between these various elements, the media differential invokes an inaugural split underlying mediation, sensation and sense-making. Mediation, from this perspective, is not an external threat that menaces human characters from outside, but a fundamental onto-phenomenological quality, folded together within bodies and representational apparatuses alike.

All welcome. Please join us for this presentation, refreshments and snacks.

Allan Cameron is Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Auckland


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