Ontological Drifting in "On Body And Soul"
Institut für Theaterwissenschaft und Film FU Berlin, Germany
“Ontological Drifting” is interested in discussing the use of images of transcendence and boundary crossing in the recent arthouse film On Body And Soul (Ildigo Enyedi, 2018). It would like to examine the poetics of spatial drifting and ontological shifting between dream-like, half-real and half-fictional spaces and the entailed somatic experiences of both the body onscreen and the body of the viewer.This presentation is interested in discussing the complex relationship between the physical and the imaginative environments. This should invite inquiry into the role played by affect and emotion in relation to these environments. Furthermore, it is interested in examining if ontological drifting is instrumental to tackle questions about our real world media environment which is characterised by multiple times and spatial orders at once. That is, how do the film’s poetics comment on the meaning of Being and Temporality at a specific time and within a specific culture?
Keywords: On Body And Soul, ontological drifting, transcendence, affect, emotion, media poetics
Hyperreality and Encounters with the Sublime
The Graduate Center at the City University of New York, United States of America
When the possibility of enchantment by the unknown is incapacitated by immediate access to and the ever-presence of digital knowledge, we cleave to the prospect of the documented unexplainable. We require the factual, the documented, to shape our conception of what constitutes a believable narrative before we can release ourselves to the power of the uncanny. The aesthetics of the hyperreal are practiced to convince the skeptical contemporary viewer of the remaining stakes of the uncanny, and to enable brushes with the sublime.
In this paper I examine the contemporary German-Canadian conceptual artist Iris Häussler’s immersive installation art alongside the genre of found footage horror, from its emergence in 1999 in the film The Blair Witch Project, with a particular focus on the 2009 film The Fourth Kind, towards a theory of the aesthetics of the hyperreal, and the particular stakes of the hyperreal in this so-called “post-truth” era.
Found-footage horror, in its use of the aesthetic conventions of documentary, a filmmaking mode cleaving fast to fact in order to weave belief in its narrative, makes efforts to represent - or not represent - the unknown, often out-of-frame menace. The form confronts and appeals to what Kristeva terms our incredible need to believe. We believe because we want to and cannot help ourselves. We need to believe in the veracity of the images that are presented to us in order for us to give ourselves over to the pleasures and unpleasures of the unknown, in order to approach the terror of the sublime.
“Some things you see with your eyes, others you see with your heart.” - Don Bluth’s Romanticism
Universität Siegen, Deutschland
During the 1980ies Disney’s supremacy in creating feature length animated films was seriously challenged by the works of Don Bluth. Having started as an animator at Disney, Bluth quickly was unsatisfied with working at Disney and started his own animation studio. Although not every movie was an instant success, he managed to severely damage Disney’s monopoly. Bluth’s films nevertheless often stand behind Disney’s in terms of artistic detail and balance. Their power of persuasion and seduction, and this is the main thesis of my proposed talk, lies in their ability to amalgamate Romantic imagery and narrative with the fantastic possibilities of animated film. As the period of Romanticism brought forward a rise of visual culture, it also featured the emergence of proto-filmic devices like the magic lantern. So I would like to analyse the connection between Bluth’s films from the perspective of media and also in terms of closed readings of chosen examples, like the 1982 film “The Secret of NIMH” and “The Land Before Time” from 1988. Whereas “The Secret of NIMH” alludes to Gothic Horror with dark and supernatural elements and symbolism, “The Land Before Time” clearly portrays an understanding of nature as sublime, both in its aesthetic appeal and in an underlying contrast between knowledge and experience. In their fantastic storytelling, both films also display a heightened sensibility in their protagonists. The proposed talk will investigate the relation between the romantic and the fantastic in this important period of animation history, while trying to construct intermediary connections between different cultural epochs.
The Doppelgänger and the Tarantula: Phantasmagoria in Denis Villeneuve’ Film Enemy
University College London, United Kingdom
Enemy (2013), by Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, is the cinematic adaptation of Jóse Saramago’s The Double (2002). The film explores the theme of marital entrapment through a visually charged narrative that reflects on anxieties of being and particular issues pertinent to the contemporary male, including but reaching beyond white collar urban alienation and domestic claustrophobia. The adaptation focuses on the aspect of male domesticity and how a man deals with the feeling of entrapment triggered by his wife’s pregnancy and his perceived/symbolic loss of space in the marital apartment. The identity split which occurs to the protagonist is dramatised through the fantastic doppelgänger motif as well as the symbol that dominates the visual vocabulary of the film, the tarantula—inspired by Louis Bourgeois’ sculpture Maman of 1999. The spider becomes a symbol of male entrapment while in Bourgeois’ vision it was intended as a figure that nurtures and protects. This duality is at the heart of the portrayal of spiders in Enemy; a nurturing figure that is also imposing and threatening. The transmogrification of the pregnant woman into a giant spider in the final scene of the film maintains a sense of gothic horror. The doppelgänger persona in Enemy presents us with a layered exposition of alienation carried through images heavy with contrasting meaning, connecting the claustrophobia of internal and external spaces. The symbolism of the double, the tarantula, and their intersection will be explored, unraveling issues on both sides of the gender dyad. This paper will offer an updating, from a gender perspective, of the gothic trope of the doppelgänger in this cinematic construction. This paper will also show how the doppelgänger trope in contemporary renditions serves as a mirror and exposition of real and crucial concerns of contemporary society. The exploration of Enemy is framed by a proliferation of doppelgänger imagery in contemporary visual culture, as I discuss.