Digital Fabrication and Its Meaning for Film

In Joaquim Braga (ed.), Conceiving Virtuality: From Art to Technology. New York, NY, USA: Springer (2019)
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Bazin, Cavell and other prominent theorists have asserted that movies are essentially photographic, with more recent scholars such as Carroll and Gaut protesting. Today CGI stands as a further counter, in addition to past objections such as editing, animation and blue screen. Also central in debates is whether photog- raphy is transparent, that is, whether it allows us to see things in other times and places. I maintain photography is transparent, notwithstanding objections citing dig- ital manipulation. However, taking a cue from Cavell—albeit one poorly outlined in his work—I argue this is not so much because of what photography physically is, but because of what “photography” has come to mean. I similarly argue digital tech- nologies have not significantly altered what cinematic media “are” because they have not fundamentally modified what they mean; and that cinema retains a photographic legacy, even when it abandons photographic technologies to digitally manufacture virtual worlds.
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