A global cinematic zone of animal and technology

Seung Hoon Jeong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Taking the animal and the machine as two ontological others of the human, this paper looks into how they are added to and replace the humanist others based on race, gender, class, etc. in contemporary cinema. This supplement urges us to reframe identity politics and cultural studies in a larger polis emerging between and encompassing both the human world, which becomes ever more globally homogenized, and its radical environment, natural or technological. The topic is a global cinematic phenomenon that even local films directly embody. The animal is captured on the boundaries between the symbolic and the real, between the actual and the virtual in the artistic works of Werner Herzog, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Peter Greenaway. The machine convolutes the issues of informatics, embodiment, and cyborgism, often through SF fantasy that pervades Hollywood blockbusters and Japanimation. The rare amalgam of animal-machine receives further attention in David Cronenberg's films, and becoming-animal/- machine in Avatar empowers the human in the posthuman sense of biopower that transforms the body and registers it on a larger network. From this perspective, discourses on the animal (zooesis) and technology (technesis) work together to bring a new political potential. Animality and technology no longer form a naïve dichotomy of nature vs. civilization but combine in ways of making more visible the new condition of life. It unfolds in a cinematic zone, an ephemeral clearing for bare life within the globalized world. This zone exists in the exceptional state of temporary potential to de-/repoliticize any humanistic politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-157
Number of pages19
JournalAngelaki - Journal of the Theoretical Humanities
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013

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Keywords

  • anti-nature
  • becoming-animal/-other
  • hospitality
  • technesis
  • zooesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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