Touched by the uncanny: experiencing Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Salvador Dalí and Luis Bunuel’s scandalous endeavor Un Chien Andalou (1929) is capable of eliciting a collective wince even after 90 years of its creation. In the opening sequence when a male hand slices a female eyeball and the fluid flows out, its much obvious to ‘feel’ the need to flinch your eye or tighten your fist when you see a male hand with crawling ants. Why does that happen? Why can’t we just ‘look’ at it like any other cinematic image? Are occcularcentrism and Psychoanalysis just enough to explain the tactile qualities and corporeal experience of cinema?

Redefining the relationship between cinema and the spectator, Vivian Sobchak asserts that film theory has been reluctant to recognize the phenomenological aspects of film viewing as a bodily experience. Since “at the movies our vision and hearing are informed and given meaning by our other modes of sensory access to the world” (Sobchack,2004,p60), it is easier to make sense of the experience of watching an unusual surrealist imagery of Un Chien Andalou. The recurrent motifs of wounded, severed and sexual advancements through hands create a fidgety sensation and make the viewer feel disgusted as the disjointed images flow one after the other.

Bunuel 1

The opening sequence is particularly important to understand that how the sensation of a  film is experienced by the skin through eyes. The first shot of male hands sharpening the razor and  then the close-up of a cigarette smoking man put your senses in suspicion that something horrible is going to happen. Then, when the famous eye-slicing scene follows, one’s body reacts by looking away or expressing disgust. “That is, we do not experience any movie only through our eyes. We see and comprehend and feel films with our entire bodily being”. (Sobchack,2004,p63).

By Swati Bakshi


Elsaesser, T. and Hagener, M. (2015). Film theory: An introduction through the senses. New York: Routledge.

Sobchack, V. C, (2004).Carnal thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture. Berkley: University Of California Press.


Archival Footage in We Are X

Written by Huiyuan Zhou

I watched this film called We Are X in London Film Festival last year, when I had no idea that it was actually a documentary about the legendary rock band Japan X . What impressed me was the combination of footage and interview with the lead singer Yoshiki.

Generally speaking the documentary chronicled their rise to superstardom, along with many footages for illustrating their growth.These archives vary from the band’s personal photos and videos such as backstage footage to interviews with each member.

Death of one of the guitaists was included in these achives. In this sequence, as Yoshiki recalled, the director Stephen Kijak put the news footage together with the current interview with Yoshiki, reproducing the sadness and shockness of the incident. Besides, the pain that Yoshiki has been through for so many years is well presented.

The footage in this film is basically chonological presented, however in this sequence, there is footage including another footage. The opening scene in this sequence is the concert footage after the incident. Stephen inserted the news footages in between. After presenting the footages of the incident, he cut back to the close-up of them on the stage, which strengthen the pain they felt.

This exlusive sequence is the best of this film for me during my watch, easily driving tears, and it well presented the media arcaeological art as well.

Transmedia Storytelling and audiences

Henry Jenkins (2013) put forward the concept of “transmedia storytelling”: the flow of content across multiple media channels was inevitable in the era of media convergence, the technology in the movie or videos made lower the production costs more realistic through sharing property on across-media. A series or film can be inspired by a novel or game; the Star Wars and Sherlock are two typical examples.

Transmedia storytelling could be adapted entirely by the original story, like Harry Potter movie series. Normally it is a dispersive content because of the difference of customers or other elements, but its nature tends to be serial. Fiorelli (2013) summarize that “The seriality is not linear, but becomes an hypertextual network.”

The relationship between transmedia storytelling and audiences are special and delicate, fans could be the potential consumers and evangelists. Even they can be the producers to create new content to expend the original world through their understanding, though, the situation is rare. But sometimes they could be the key of a successful marketing strategy. The Hunger Games movie trilogy is a good example. The target audiences are the fans who emotionally invested in novel of the same name. They can interact with the content through the popular social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. The producer created a real fashion magazine called Capitol Couture which response to the content of fashion in the film and novel. The campaign based on the content blurs the line between the reality and virtual world, increasing fans’ interests and embracing their passions. The digital and social means to promote the different media is different, but it must place the story and audiences at the center. The core idea and story will spread more in the information-fragmented world and reach more field and people (Npharsen, 2016).

The Hunger Games Explorer Transmedia.png



Fiorelli, G. (2013). Transmedia Storytelling: Building Worlds For and With Fans. [blog] Moz. Available at: [Accessed 29 Mar. 2017].

Jenkins, H. (2003). Transmedia Storytelling. [online] MIT Technology Review. Available at: [Accessed 29 Mar. 2017].

Npharsen, (2016). Case Study: The Hunger Games. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Mar. 2017].


Written by Yijun Zhang

Turning your eyes into sense organs

Ocularcentric paradigm dominated film theory for a long time. The reviewing of theories such as mirror-reflexivity and the emergency of apparatus theory transported ‘visible man’ into Plato’s cave changed the situation. Then, Thomas Elsaesser’s and Malte Hagener’s Film Theory explored the way audience experiences film through their senses, the sense of sight, the primary sense associated with our experience in relation to images and touch, a less directly related sense yet an important one relating to images.

Eyes, not only the organ of visual perception, but also the organs of all senses.

In films, there different ways to turn spectator’s eyes into sense organs. One of the most common method is to create twisted atmosphere or against audience’s usual feeling and pull audience out of their comfort zone.

According to Thomas Elsaesser and Malte Hagener (2015), when watching Gravity(2013), spectator can feel an equally sense if weightlessness and disorientation with characters in the film. This kind of feeling is achieved by showing the endless and hopeless astrospace with long takes and 3D cinematography.

Another example is Hannibal (2013). It expressed the feelings of strange frightening and nauseated by relating bloody human skin and organs with “food”. In this TV series, close up of “meat” in Hannibal’s kitchen and the scenes of cooking and eating make audience feel eerie when they relate these clues with the evidence of “eating people”.




Thomas Elsaesser and Malte Hagener, Film Theory: An Introduction Through the Senses. London: Routledge, 2015.



New Spectatorship by Danmu Screening

Written by Qiumeng Wang

Danmu video (as the picture) is a new form born from Japanese “OTAKU culture” and well-developed in both China and Japan. In danmu video, audience can make comments at any time and share their opinion with others. All comments by audiences can be seen on the screen while the video is playing. Those comments displayed on the screen are called “danmu”. Danmu video does not only perform as YouTube, an post-cinematic assemblage, but also changes the relationship and spectatorship in the digital and internet era by putting directors and audience on the same level and enhancing the activeness of audience.


For danmu image, whatever the danmu film or online danmu video, it is consisted of original image and “Danmu”. Unless you switch off the Danmu, the image created by filmmakers and Danmu created by audiences are a unity, which cannot be separated. Thus, creators of image become filmmakers and audiences. Danmu image widen the group of creator, from professional filmmakers to non-professional audiences.

As long as Danmu covers the previous works, the content changes. First, in non-Danmu films, all images are completed before they are released. However, for danmu image, based on the live comments, danmu image is updating and changing all the time. Second, meanings of non-danmu image are all about the completed images, in terms of mise-en-scene, editing, performance and so on. In danmu images, their meanings are not only from the cinematic language, but also from the audiences’ comments. Those live comments on screens are able to influence audience’s interpretation and lead their focus as well.

In some theories, some art films and directors intentionally utilise distancing devices to prevent viewers from passively engaging on the narrational and characterisational level, by contrast, viewer’s actively rethinking will be recalled. In danmu image, the danmu also perform as the device of estrangement, distract viewers’ attention from narrative/plot to other things, whatever the meaningless comments, thankful retrospection, or even complexity of internet media.

Regarding the interrelationship among three processes as a whole:

It forms a circle- audience creates more meaningàchange/affect meaning in worksà audience receive more meanings/lead audiences’ thought -à create more comments-àmore meaning… This constant circle gives dammu life to work on future and provoke audiences’ activeness constantly.

In a sense, through Danmu, the link between receiver and creator goes beyond the work, and they build a more direct connection. The new spectatorship provides audience a new watching experience, in which audience performs as both a receiver and a creator, adding images more meaning. Examining danmu image, we can see it is leading a transition from consuming film content towards consuming watching experience.

Danmu and cinema apparatus are able to co-exist for they provide different watching experience. When audience watch a film at the first time, in which they tend to focus on story more, the traditional model in closure space, in cinema can provide for them quite environment without disturbance. For those who has the need of watching a second time or multi-times, danmu can help them to keep distance from the story. Watching films dispassionately is better for them to interact with others and acquire more messages from the screen. As well, we can even speculate, in the future, danmu may enhance the long tail effect of film for it provide film, the one-time consumer good, the possibility to be watched many times.




Metz, C., 1982. The imaginary signifier: Psychoanalysis and the cinema. Indiana University Press.

Xu, Y., 2016. The postmodern aesthetic of Chinese online comment cultures. Communication and the Public, p.2057047316677839.



Did the video overwhelm the music?

Written by Huiyuan Zhou

Music video is hard to evaluate. The genre possesses an odd particularity, comprised of intangibles that have analogs to pop music like syncopation, rubato, articulation, and grain; it’s frigile. (Vernallis, 2014)

When we learned sound as added value to images from Michel Chion , can we define the video in a music video as ‘added value’ to music?

Although music videos were initially produced just as industry promo, they have undoubtedly affect the visual-sound relationship after almost 40 years’ development.The methodology that people treat them as short films is no longer new. For example, when we look at A-Ha’s “Take on me”, where the director applied the technology to present a love story, it’s undoubtedly an innovative assemble of moving images and music. However, does the story overwhelm the music a little bit? For those who never listened this song, will viewers have more impression on the video or on the music?


screenshot from

Music video, for me, is an audio-visual art composed of sound and images. There are many extraordinary directors including Steve Barron, who is the director of .

Michell Gondry also have directed many works that well illustrated this video art, such as where Michell applied the images to the lyrics appropriately and added a brandnew visual value to the original music.

And his video for Metronomy’s Love Letters.

Did the video overwhelm the music? Well, it happens. But we as audience have our own judgement of a work. Why don’t we expect some more?


Vernallis, C. (2014). Unruly media. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press Inc, p.211.




19 FEBRUARY 2017


In our present time, words like contemporary, digital, advanced etc.…, have become some of the most iconic words used to describe the eagerness of some to outcast the past as simply not valid anymore or not good enough to associate themselves with.

A new generation totally surrounded and isolated by technological tools and aspects of expression are taking over and leading the way in a world that doesn’t quite understand the adherence of the older generation to what they affiliate to and prefer to be associated with. I argue, along many from older generations, that they don’t have to ditch their former practices in order to engage with the newer ones, as combining both practises and putting them to work hand in hand is without any doubt an advantage.

The introduction of digital cinema didn’t happen all of the sudden. It has been long coming and anticipated for its ability to bring the unthought-of ideas and themes into practice for the sake of widening the scope of storytelling and filmmaking, beyond the pursuit of popularity and massive attraction. Yes, the digitalization of the moving images have served those purposes very well, but they also didn’t do any harm to the old ways of achieving the same goals.

The diacritical question to me is did it do harm to the critical approach to understand and analyse what makes a good film, such as Idea, Theme, Narrative, Premise, Plot etc.?

The answer to that almost mean nothing to the mass majority who pursue and enjoy watching films. On the other hand, to that minority who make good argument about what makes a good film, they will always keep analysing films as long as it means a great deal to film making philosophy and to themselves from whatever angle they look at that premise, simply because they will always be those who don’t care.

Continuation and rupture of moving Images


Berry, Harbord, and Moore (2013) pointed out that the firm attitude of media in the public space is one of the least visible but the most vital aspect of its presence. As such, with any post-concept, is both a break as well as a continuation of the legacy of the cinema. The post-cinema employs the audience to think about the link between newer and the older media regimes. Therefore, it is crucial that this transition in audiovisual media reflects both the stylistic and technological transformation and the shifts in sensibility and affect. With regards to the moving image production, exhibition, and consumption, throughout film history has turned out to be a matter of laying tracks and tracing paths leading in the respective “now” to different pasts. This is achieved in modalities that accommodate ruptures as well as continuities (Ernst, 2006). The digital revolution is regarded as the moment of rupture. The rupture must be a matter of aesthetics or even technological. The continuity, on the other hand, is the idea that images no longer entirely tag on the rules of classical cinema composition and

In regards to the recent theories on screen studies, it can be argued that the perspective of the present collection is post-cinematic. However, implying that the 21st century is media that is post-cinematic does not, however, refute the heterogeneity aspects making up the landscape. However, post-cinema is a synoptic or summative concept of a particular sort that enables an internal variety while paying attention to the cumulative influence of the newer media. An example is in the moving image aesthetic whereby the aesthetic of the contemporary film does not just replicate the environments established by the press and digital technology. Nonetheless, it breaks more radically with the cultural logics and power geometries of the twentieth-century cinema (Leyda and Denson, 2016).

Berry, C., Harbord, J. and Moore, R. eds., (2013). Public space, media space. Springer.

Ernst, W., (2006). Does the archive become metaphorical in multi-media space. New Media old media. New York: Routledge, p.105.

Leyda, J. and Denson, S., (2016). Post-Cinema: Theorizing 21st-Century Film.

Media Ecology in Exit Through the Gift Shop

“If the medium itself and its unique laws of formal representation serve as a starting-point, many of its parameters either transcend or obscure the categories that have been gained in tracking narrative strategies of literary texts” (Kuhn & Schmidt, 2014). The assemblage of different media can be regarded as an ecology, a form of life with a range of dynamically related and symbiotic elements, in which users or spectators are considered as a vital part of the ecology.

Exit Through the Gift Shop, directed by Banksy, is a film about immigrant, photography, street art, gallery and filming. This film is under the circumstances of globalisation, in which Thierry Guetta is a French immigrant living in America, constantly filming his surroundings. The technique of transmedia storytelling is adopted in the film, systematically distributed stories in different media platforms, through elements such as photos, street art and filming, which seems independent each other but as a whole in fact, allowing talented narrators to have a bigger stage and loyal fans to share their ideas better (Moloney, 2013).

Casetti once revealed, “Cinema is a dynamic reality that is always on the point of going beyond its borders and yet is also always ready to reaffirm its basic characteristics”(Casetti, 2015:88). Exit Through the Gift Shop demonstrates Casetti opinion vividly. As Elena del Río indicated, “like an expired body that blends with the dirt to form new molecules and living organisms, the body of cinema continues to blend with other image/sound technologies in processes of composition/decomposition that breed images with new speeds and new distributions of intensities” (Elena del Río, 2016). The film also display as apparatus in Guetta’ show, apparatus was modified to take into account its heterogeneity as well as social conditions so that it can be seen as “deeply historical [and] characterized by multiple genealogies and variable structures”(Casetti, 2015:78), thus, exhibiting the enrichment and vitality of the film.

Written by Zifei Xu


Casetti, F.(2015). The Lumière Galaxy: Seven Key Words for the Cinema to Come. New York. Columbia University Press.

Chih-yung, C.(2012). Becoming Figural The Digital Moving Images in the Post-Cinematic Era. Available From [Accessed 29 March 2017]

McLuhan, M. and Quentin F. (1967). The Medium Is The Massage. New York. Bantam.


Cinema As Window

Thomas Elsaesser (2010)  regarded film as the ‘window’, which made me realize that audiences have the ability to let our eyes going through the screen, to the hiding reality behind the screen, despite understanding the world in screen is a fiction world which is not real. For example, when we see a film which is aiming to reflect the reality, the authenticity of film is able to impress and touch the emotion of audience, despite realizing it is unreal. In this case, cinema can be seen as a window, and spectators are concentrating on the real world through the window rather than focus on the ‘decoration’ of the window.

The meaning of reality, as an “inseparable whole” which is mentioned by Andre Bazin and he also said the fact possess an ontological unity which film has to respect. Therefore, the theory of regarding cinema as a ‘window’ aims to highlight the realistic characteristic of cinema. Furthermore, the theory also contributes to the development of sociological and psychological research. Because it is not concerned about the issue of film art, but rather on the audience’s cognition of the metaphor and realism issues which are hidden behind the fiction films. It can be utilized to answer a psychological question: why some individuals are willing to indulge in the world where they realize it is unreal. However, Hollywood blockbusters with fictitious narratives not only cut the relation between spectators and reality but also may crowd out the ‘realism experience’ of audiences through appreciating cinemas.



Elsaesser, T.& Hagener, M. (2010).Cinema as window and frame: Film theory an introduction through the senses.New York: Routledge.