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Thesis Info

LABS ID
00061
Title
From shadow citizens to teflon stars: cultural responses to the digital actor
Author
Lisa Bode
2nd Author
NULL
3rd Author
NULL
Degree
PhD, Film studies
Year
2005
Number of Pages
239
University
The University of New South Wales, Australia
Thesis Supervisor
Dr George Kouvaros
Supervisor e-mail
NULL
Other Supervisor(s)
Dr Ross Rudesch Harley
Language(s) of Thesis
English
Department / Discipline
School of Theatre, Film and Dance
Languages Familiar to Author
English
URL where full thesis can be found
NULL
Keywords
digital actor, synthespian, human, uncanny, modernity, double, death
Abstract: 200-400 words
This thesis examines an intermittent uncanniness that emerges in cultural responses to new image technologies, most recently in some impressions of the digital actor. The history of image technologies is punctuated by moments of fleeting strangeness: from Maxim Gorky’s reading of the cinematographic image in terms of “cursed grey shadows,” to recent renderings of the computer-generated cast of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within as silicon-skinned mannequins. It is not merely the image’s unfamiliar and new aesthetics that render it uncanny. Rather, the image is received within a cultural framework where its perceived strangeness speaks allegorically of what it means to be human at that historical moment. In various ways Walter Benjamin, Anson Rabinbach and N. Katherine Hayles have claimed that the notion and the experience of “being human” is continuously transformed through processes related to different stages of modernity including rational thought, industrialisation, urbanisation, media and technology. In elaborating this argument, each of the four chapters is organized around the elucidation of a particular motif: “dummy,” “siren,” “doppelgänger” and “resurrection.” These motifs circulate through discourses on different categories of digital actor, from those conceived without physical referents to those that are created as digital likenesses of living or dead celebrities. These cultural responses suggest that even while writers on the digital actor are speculating about the future, they are engaging with ideas about life, death and identity that are very old and very ambivalent.