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Title: Meatspace : The body as spectacle and cultural artefact in contemporary actuality body horror and death media
Author: Astley, Mark
ISNI:       0000 0004 2687 7994
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2009
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Abstract Virtual worlds now allow 'second lives' for World Wide Web users online, lives where identity is mutable and not assailed by the fallibility or perceived inadequacy of the flesh. Two terms have entered the new media lexicon, that are useful in denoting this dualism between the real and the simulated, 'cyberspace' and 'meatspace'. The meatspace is simply where the meat lives; meatspace is where physical, in contrast to electronic, interaction takes place. What the virtual is to cyberspace, flesh and blood is to meatspace. Yet an irony of this dichotomy is that in the digital realm of the World Wide Web there is a huge market, or rapt audience, for ‘real life’ representations of the body. The attraction of these images is that they privilege the flawed, unusual or damaged body as a site of spectacle. Here, the object of fascination is not only the human body and its functions, the most obvious example being the sexual body found in the hardcore pornography genre, but the human body in extremis. A dominant theme of this thesis shall be how the emergence of new media technologies has seen this hitherto niche genre grow exponentially, in regard to the volume of material available and the potential size of its audience. The primary focus in this thesis is the sub-genre of actuality body horror and death media, a recess within contemporary media that is dedicated to the production, distribution and consumption of visual records of ‘real life’ violence and its bloody aftermath, and the explicit representation of the traumatised, decayed or torn asunder body. Along with this, the thesis shall also look at how new media has changed spectator positions. However, this is no technologically deterministic account, for while new media enables greater production and distribution of death media, it is acknowledged herein that what is actually captured on camera is often dictated by a complex intersection of socio-cultural, religious and political influences. It shall be argued that in actuality body horror and death media the body fulfils either one of two functions, being a site of spectacle or cultural artefact. The distinction between the body being a site of spectacle or cultural artefact provides an organising duality for the thesis: meaning (the body as cultural artefact) and spectacle (the body as spectacular attraction). Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, the thesis incorporates film theory, literary and cultural theory, new media and socio-technological studies, and applies critical discourses to key actuality body horror and death media texts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available