Apertúra Film-Vizualitás-Elmélet
Winter, 2010 | Nyomtatás |

Theory and history of visual culture

Sándor Hornyik: The Odyssey of the Image. Theory and politics of "Visual Culture"

The potential theory of the image and visuality has been a debated issue recently. The focus of the debate are such basic notions as the "image" and "visual culture". A genealogical discussion of metaphors, the Image, the Screen and the Gaze may serve as a useful illustration of clashing viewpoints and disagreements. The only incontestable fact is the emancipation of a new field, which is usually referred to as visual culture studies, or just visual studies. Another term, following the German model of Bildwissendchaft, is image studies. These different terms entail different academic horizons and perspectives, which may be revealed precisely through the scrutiny of the debates and the underlying politics; while corresponding notions and interpretive strategies have appeared in specific critical studies and film theory research. Within this field, however, questionable genealogies may endanger not only the analyses, but the academic field itself. It is also beyond debate, however, that in the age of the computer, the screen and the image the comparative analysis of academic methods and notions may be useful not only for specific interpretations, but for the disciplines themselves. 

Melinda Szaloky: The Pregnant Moment: "Mother Wit" in Aesthetic Reflection, Psychoanalysis, and Cinema

The essay traces conceptual connections between key aspects of Kant's transcendental philosophy, especially aesthetic reflection, and basic psychoanalytic concepts that have figured prominently in the European film theory of the 1970s and 1980s. In addition, the essay proposes a reevaluation of the phallic economy of signification in placental-umbilical terms. Introducing the ephemeral materno-foetal organ of the placenta into psychoanalytic film theory as the biological prototype of the fetish, phallus, dream screen, virtual or lost maternal object and object of desire (objet petit a) promises to resolve the impasse reached by feminist theories keyed to Freud's and Lacan's *patriarchal* phallic economy. The placenta is seen here as having the same function as Kant's transcendental subject -- that of a focus imaginarius, a virtual memory organ furnishing the idea of both plenitude and lack, or castration, and making possible symbolic signification as synthetic a priori. 

Attila Kiss: "A certain responsibility." Anatomy and the Other of the Subject

This paper attempts to scrutinize the interrelationship between the postmodern renaissance of theatricalized anatomy and the subject's relation to the flesh of the Other, within the framework of what Jacques Derrida called the carno-phallogocentric order of our culture. I employ postsemiotic understandings of materiality and the concept of the suture to theorize the subject's  experience of the look of the cadaver. 

Éva Török: Roles of the Grotesque in Contemporary Visual Arts

In order to find out the roles of the grotesque in contemporary visual arts, I introduce four recent critical books on this topic. These critical writings prove that the grotesque is supported by notions borrowed from other disciplines. For example we meet Kristeva's abject from psychoanalysis and most often Bakhtin's grotesque realism from the socio-cultural discourses. These terms are all productive in describing the grotesque in visual culture, but I nevertheless emphasize the return to the etymology of the word "grotesque". Describing the role of the grotesque I start with the re-interpretation of the Bakhtinian idea: grotesque is the border of art and life. This leads to the description of the perception of grotesque artwork, where the openness (Eco) of the artwork insists on the intrusion of the spectator. This intrusion is executed with the help of the grotesque that provokes and wins the attention of the spectator and with the involvement of the spectator, s/he becomes the spectacle itself. 


Film and visual culture

Robrecht Vanderbeeken: Cinematic Immersion at the Turn of a Millenium: Postmediality, Cybertribes and Hypericonography.

The most vital characteristic of cinema is probably its persuasive force, to withdraw its viewers from their everyday experience and envelop them in an audiovisual stream. Ever since the rise of early cinema, about a century ago, technological evolutions and developments in the visual language of cinema focuses on finding new ways to submerge the experienced audience in a new cinematographic experience, through which a different world of living images, space, light, words, music or movement reveals itself. But if immersion is the thriving force behind the cinematographic experience, what are the new immersive challenges in our contemporary postcinema era? This paper explores three contemporary immersive strategies in terms of postmediality, cybertribalism and hypericonography. 

Tamás Kisantal: From Triumph to Downfall. Hitler, His Cult, and the Films

The essay analyses the concept of "cult film" in a way that diverges from customary approaches; it examines the connection between real, historical cults and their representation in cinema. The example of the essay is the cult of the leader of the Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler and his filmic representations. It shortly surveys the history of pictorial representations of Hitler from the photos of Heinrich Hoffmann through the famous propagandistic films of Leni Riefenstahl to the postwar filmic representations. The essay focuses on two significant Hitler-films of the recent past: the American mini-series, The Rise of the Evil (2003) and the German film, Der Untergang (2004). 

Tamás Juhász: "The bride is for sale!" Sexuality, Patriarchy and politics in Zoltán Fábry's Merry-Go-Round

Approaching Zoltán Fábri's Merry-Go-Round (Körhinta, 1955) from anthropological and psychoanalytical perspectives, this paper explores the connection between the sexual and political themes that constitute the two main plots in the film. In contrast to several critical views, the author argues that the representation of farming and collectivization-which many contemporary viewers find propagandistic and therefore outdated-is in fact a vital part of the artistic vision that assumes-in conceptual harmony with the insights of such theoreticians as Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jacques Lacan, Luce Irigaray and Karl Polányi -that the rise of human communities occurred through interconnected acts of sexual, economic and verbal exchange.   

Zsolt Győri: Memento - The Szindbád of Genre Film?

My essay undertakes the analysis of Christopher Nolan's Memento using the concepts of Gilles Deleuze's film theory. I analyse the unique condition of the hero in relation to both his incapability to act and his being dominated by instincts. I compare the character of Lenny to that of Sindbad which has an honourable place in the pantheon of not only Hungarian literature (thanks to Gyula Krúdy), but in that of cinema as well (due to Zoltán Huszárik). Besides discussing their shared experience of temporality, I also examine the different authorial intentions to make these out-of-this-world characters into strong allegories. Whereas Sindbad comes to embody a positive hero in his resistance to be anchored in everyday existence, Nolan's Lenny is an antihero whose personal pathography should really be understood as the diagnostic reading of contemporary civilization. In my view certain Deleuzeian concepts, such as the affection-image, the impulse-image and the small and large forms of the action-image may help us comprehend this diagnostic aspect of Memento

Dóra Diána Gollowitzer: Image and Subject

The paper examines the narratological status of images used in CSI: Crime Scene Investigations with the aim to define the relationship between seeing, knowing and focalization. After an image-typology is introduced, types of images with special roles in the series are closely examined. One such example, apart from images representing the mental content of characters (flash backs, fake flash backs, images representing the crime), is the so-called CSI-shot, consisting of hyper realistic macro footages and their animation.
These image sequences are interesting from different perspectives. On the one hand, they are excellent representations of problems linked to the body image, in other words, of a recent and general urge that makes people reconsider their attitude towards their body. The body image presented in the series is discussed as part of the same issue. On the other hand, it is important to remark that the narratological status of the CSI-shots is vague, because it is impossible to decide clearly in each case whether these shots belong to the non-diegetic narrator or to a focalisor. According to the argument  these sequences of images (which are not always as long as a scene) represent a transitional stage between the two levels mentioned above, because the images showed during the investigation and the reconstruction of the crime can be defined as highly subjective. Namely, in CSI a transcendental technical gaze comes into existence, which (particularly because of the numerous repetitions) does not leave the gaze of the viewer untouched. Furthermore, a strongly held belief in evidence and science refers to an ideologically biased definition of science, according to which the proper objective use of science leads to absolute truths, while (as presented earlier) visual narration also strongly banks upon various forms of subjectivity. This duality is masked with evidence, which neutralizes questions and doubts that would potentially undermine scientific methods used in CSI.