- 'What does a scanner see?' Techno-fascination and unreliability in the mind-game film.
- 3rd Global Conference: Visions of Humanity in Cyberculture, Cyberpunk and Science Fiction
- Book/source title
- 3rd Global Conference: Visions of Humanity in Cyberculture, Cyberpunk and Science Fiction : Tuesday 1st July-Thursday 3rd July 2008, Mansfield College, Oxford : conference programme, abstracrts and papers
- Freeland, Oxfordshire: Inter-Disciplinary.Net
- Document type
- Conference contribution
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
In popular cinema, paranoia and conspiracy plots often go hand in hand with questions of technological innovation. For example, A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, US 2006) combines issues such as audiovisual surveillance, conspiracy, and manipulation without disambiguating between paranoid delusion and conventional causality. By foregrounding the possibility of all audiovisual media to colour our perceptions, the film emphasises its own functioning as a mediated and synthetic presentation of a story. Moreover, its mode of presentation mimics the themes of delusion, conspiracy, blurred boundaries, and unfixed identities, drawing the spectator fully into its state of confusion.
Films such as A Scanner Darkly signal a current shift in narrative cinema, and prompt a kind of spectator-engagement much in line with posthumanist views on subjectivity. Rather than pertaining to traditional notions of illusionism and suspension of disbelief, these "mind-game films" (Thomas Elsaesser) employ unreliability and spectacle for the creation of unstable and synthetic storyworlds. While firmly embedded in the institution of narrative fiction cinema, A Scanner Darkly presents novel and significant modes of signification and agency (even if limited or dystopian), both for those "trapped" within its filmic story and for the spectators on its other end.
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