Dreaming of Cinema: Spectatorship, Surrealism, and the Age of Digital Media
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Adam Lowenstein argues that Surrealism's encounter with film can help redefine the meaning of cinematic spectatorship in an era of popular digital entertainment. Video games, YouTube channels, Blu-ray discs, and other forms of new” media have made theatrical cinema seem old.” A sense of cinema lost” has accompanied the ascent of digital media, and many worry film’s special capacity to record the real is either disappearing or being fundamentally changed by new media’s different technologies. The Surrealist movement offers an ideal platform for resolving these tensions, undermining the claims of cinema’s crisis of realism and offering an alternative interpretation of film’s aesthetics and function. The Surrealists never treated cinema as a realist medium and understood our perceptions of the real itself to be a mirage. Reading the writing, films, and art of Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, André Breton, André Bazin, Roland Barthes, Georges Bataille, Roger Caillois, and Joseph Cornell, and tracing their influence in the films of David Cronenberg, Nakata Hideo, and Atom Egoyan; the American remake of the Japanese Ring (1998); and a YouTube channel devoted to Rock Hudson, this innovative approach puts past and present cinema into conversation to recast the meaning of cinematic spectatorship in the twenty-first century.