Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

The Profane Illumination of Cinema: Knowledge, Uncertainty and Belief in the Age of Virtual Reality

Author: Ramona FOTIADE, Senior Lecturer, School of Modern Languages & Cultures, University of Glasgow



This paper explores notions of realism, evidence, undecida-bility and faith in the context of our relationship with images following the digital revolution and the transition from a culture of analogue photographic and filmic records to the new space-time of virtual reality. The first part of the paper contrasts the phenome-nological account of photographic images and the post-structuralist elaboration of an aesthetics of spectrality in the works of Roland Barthes, Deleuze and Derrida. Through the comparative analysis of films exploring processes of memory and time perception in relation to photographic and mental images, such as Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962), Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel (1962), and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), the argument highlights the emergence of complex storytelling strategies which challenge our assumptions about the objectivity and mechanical functioning of the recording camera. In the second part of the paper, I discuss the consequences of the meta-narrative use of theatrical mise-en-scène and its avatars (analogue cinema, video and digital film) to bring into view the shared spectrality of the recording camera and of the human psyche in the age of virtual reality. Alan Resnais’s You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet (2012), Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000) and 2046 (2004) provide the case studies for a reassess-ment of the evolution of film theory from a culture of epistemic knowledge and technological progress, to a culture of belief and metaphysical exploration of the human condition as both limited by death and open to non-linear processes of haunting. Deleuze’s notions of the “time-image” and of the “repetition of faith” will help illuminate a radically different account of recollection as creative restitution of memory turned toward the future, which breaks the logic of temporal irreversibility and promises to overcome oblivion and, ultimately, death.



irtual reality, uncertainty, profane illumination, knowledge, post-modern idea


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