Author ORCID Identifier
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Moving Image Studies
This dissertation examines technologies of self-mediation and their impact on contemporary visual culture. Since the standard inclusion of the forward-facing camera on the iPhone 4 in 2010, self-mediation has become a widespread form of digital media engagement. Approaching digital self-mediation as a durational event, this dissertation focuses on narrative films, or what I deem “narcisscinema,” and other serial aesthetic practices. In order to address the range of practices possible through technologies of self-mediation, I mobilize the various aesthetic aids through which narcissism has been approached in critical theory. Following an introduction in chapter one, chapter two “The Pool: Narcissism and the Moving Image,” establishes the use value of cinema as a mapping tool that exposes the affective complexity of self-mediation. Chapter three, “The Mirror: Narcissism as Affective Form,” analyzes Darren Aronfosky’s Black Swan (2010) as a poetics of narcissism, examining self-mediation as a disciplinary practice. Chapter four, “Play: Narcissism and Creative Invention,” reviews Deleuze’s reaffirmation of narcissism as a form of play, addressing forms of self-assertion that disrupt the faciality of contemporary selfie culture. Chapter five, “Allure: Narcissism and the Object,” extends this analysis further into a discussion of the incipient narcissism of western philosophy including the recent object-oriented philosophy. Here, I interpret object-oriented ontology as a philosophical form of self-mediation given its preoccupation with the human as object. While the first chapters consider contemporary films which reproduce the zeitgeist of contemporary digital culture by essentializing the mediated self as a white heteronormative female (thereby reproducing the ideal object of the gaze), the latter two chapters further develop a critical racial analysis of photo-sharing and social networking sites, arguing that digital visual culture underscores a formal notion of the subject that first emerged in Enlightenment aesthetic philosophy and always necessitates a problematic racial and gendered hierarchy. Finally, in the coda I examine Jenn Nkiru’s music video for Kamasi Washington’s “Hub Tones” (2018) as an alternative model of self-assertion which disrupts contemporary digital culture’s commerce in faces and its commodification of difference.
Gunn, JENNY, "Narcisscinema: Selfie Culture and the Moving Image." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2019.
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