n De Arte - The image as trans-form and transformation : exploring 'the symptom' of aberrant images in (Neill Blomkamp, 2009) : research

Volume 2015, Issue 92
  • ISSN : 0004-3389
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Images of abnormalities and aberrations abound in visual culture, and these have recently enjoyed a growing scholarly interest. My article takes as its collective subject this kind of image. Specifically, I discuss Neill Blomkamp's blockbuster due to its abundance in aberration. Under the label 'aberrant image' I consider an array of previously described visual (and experiential) categories, namely the grotesque, abject, monstrous-feminine and uncanny, because of the characteristic way they destabilise viewers. My hypothesis is that they share a particular kind of image operation, a concept which I borrow from Hans Belting. In aberrant images, this operation incorporates both visual elements and their affects (here understood as emotional and physical sensations experienced by sentient beings). For this reason, I read how these images work and work on us in terms of Georges Didi-Huberman's phenomenological and psychoanalytical delineation of 'the symptom'; an 'incomprehensible sign' which both displays and dissimulates the process of figuration because it reveals the materiality of images. However, I aim to broaden Didi-Huberman's definition of representation with Belting's conceptualisation of the image as operation, by applying it to the cinematic medium and to aberrant images. Therefore, I adapt the concept of 'the symptom' to describe a broader kind of image operation whereby what the image represents is destabilising to the engendering of this image, so that it becomes a 'symptomatic image'.

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