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Title: Cinema of the self : a theory of cinematic selfhood & practices of neoliberal portraiture
Author: Rosinski, Milosz Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 934X
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis examines the philosophical notion of selfhood in visual representation. I introduce the self as a modern and postmodern concept and argue that there is a loss of selfhood in contemporary culture. Via Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy, Gerhard Richter and the method of deconstruction of language, I theorise selfhood through the figurative and literal analysis of duration, the frame, and the mirror. In this approach, selfhood is understood as aesthetic-ontological relation and construction based on specific techniques of the self. In the first part of the study, I argue for a presentational rather than representational perspective concerning selfhood by translating the photograph Self in the Mirror (1964), the painting Las Meninas (1656), and the video Cornered (1988), into my conception of a cinematic theory of selfhood. Based on the presentation of selfhood in those works, the viewer establishes a cinematic relation to the visual self that extends and transgresses the boundaries of inside and outside, presence and absence, and here and there. In the second part, I interpret epistemic scenes of cinematic works as durational scenes in which selfhood is exposed with respect to the forces of time and space. My close readings of epistemic scenes of the films The Congress (2013), and Boyhood (2014) propose that cinema is a philosophical mirror collecting loss of selfhood over time for the viewer. Further, the cinematic concert A Trip to Japan, Revisited (2013), and the hyper-film Cool World (1992) disperse a spatial sense of selfhood for the viewer. In the third part, I examine moments of selfhood and the forces of death, survival, and love in the practice of contemporary cinematic portraiture in Joshua Oppenheimer’s, Michael Glawogger’s, and Yorgos Lanthimos’ work. While the force of death is interpreted in the portrait of perpetrators in The Act of Killing (2013), and The Look of Silence (2014), the force of survival in the longing for life is analysed in Megacities (1998), Workingman’s death (2005), and Whores’ Glory (2011). Lastly, Dogtooth (2009), Alps (2011), and The Lobster (2015) present the contemporary human condition as a lost intuition of relationality epitomised in love.
Supervisor: McNeill, Isabelle Sponsor: University of Cambridge ; Arts and Humanities Research Council ; EU
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: philosophy ; aesthetics ; deconstruction ; art theory ; visual studies ; critical theory ; french theory ; neoliberal ; derrida ; nancy ; foucault ; barthes ; bazin ; self ; selfhood ; representation ; presentation ; perspective ; mirror ; selfie ; presence ; ontology ; identity ; belonging ; film ; video ; photography ; painting ; portrait ; cinema ; art ; video art ; new media ; senses ; collection ; dispersion ; cinematic self ; epistemic scene ; loss of self ; cinematic portraiture ; death ; survival ; love ; velazquez ; linklater ; folman ; piper ; oppenheimer ; glawogger ; lanthimos