This course examines the shift from traditional cinematic spectacles to works probing the frontiers of interactive, performative, and networked media. Drawing upon a broad range of scholarship, including film theory, communication studies, cultural studies and new media theory, the course will consider how digital technologies are transforming the semiotic fabric of contemporary visual cultures. The great realist film theorist André Bazin predicted that the future of cinema would be a holographic form without boundaries. In this moment Bazin’s vision is begining to be realized, but co-exists with its opposite: frames within frames that foreground the materiality of the screen. The course will begin with the phenomenon Gene Youngblood described four decades ago as ‘expanded cinema’, i.e., an explosion of the frame outward towards immersive, interactive and interconnected forms of culture. With an emphasis on immersion, connectivity and mobility, we will consider the new models and metaphors that theorists from Marshall McLuhan to Gilles Deleuze have used to address the changed status of the moving image and concomitant transformations in screen technology. Our trajectory will be framed by a series of questions that are both ontological and epistemological in nature: what constitutes the ‘new’ in new media? How are digital aesthetics different from film aesthetics? What new forms of spectatorship and storytelling, political community and commodity production are being enabled? While the course is concerned with recent developments in cinema technology and digital poetics, these are framed by an understanding of the digital not simply as a technology but also as an experience of space and time tied to capitalism (Bauman 2000).
A range of popular and experimental media will allow us to situate these questions across different contexts of convergent and unstable media cultures. Students will be encouraged to explore these questions through both theoretical reflection and practical experiments using old and new media technologies.