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The para-indexicality of the cinematic image

Seung-hoon Jeong

pp. 75-101

This paper aims at a semio-epistemological revisit of Peircean/Bazinian indexicality. On the level of diegesis, an image takes on indexicality as physical causality, the succession of causes and effects. What matters in our cinematic experience is then less medium-specificity than reference-recognition, i.e. whether or not we know what a visual sign refers to within diegesis. The problematic case is that in which an image is not a clear index to something visually given, but it appears and functions like a “para-index” that only partially, impossibly indicates the unthinkable, a sort of “digit” that fingers what Lacan or Deleuze calls the absent but immanent Real or Virtual. In fact Bazin’s interest in adventure films facing this unrepresentable realm especially inspires us to revamp indexicality as para-indexicality. The paper elaborates on this notion through George Didi-Huberman and Jacques Rancière, as well as films by Michael Haneke, Ingrid Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard etc.

Publication details

DOI: 10.4000/estetica.1640

Full citation [Harvard style]:

Jeong, S. (2011). The para-indexicality of the cinematic image. Rivista di estetica 46, pp. 75-101.

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