Science Fiction Film & Television

Binary, coded

On the ‘absence’ of the digital in Strange Days

Science Fiction Film & Television (2018), 11, (2), 277–302.

Abstract

Given its release amidst the domestic proliferation of computing, gaming and the internet, Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days is curiously devoid of overt references to digital media. Despite this apparent lacuna, Strange Days reveals itself to be deeply concerned with the implications of new media technologies in the contemporary moment. It articulates a reflexive response to new media’s promises of immediacy, presence and interaction, and the implications of these emergent modalities for cinema and spectatorship. In particular, the film’s narrative and aesthetic representation of ‘SQUID’ - a pseudo-cinematic media form which exceeds audiovisual spectatorship - highlights productive intersections between character and spectator, vision and sensation, past and present, old and new media.

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Baron, Cynthia. ‘The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow: Hollywood Transgressor’. Quarterly Review of Film and Video 23.5 (2006): 456-60. ‘The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow: Hollywood Transgressor’ Quarterly Review of Film and Video 23 456 60 Google Scholar

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Clover, Carol J. Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1992. Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film Google Scholar

Collisions Film Homepage. http://www.collisionsvr.com/. Accessed 17 Sep 2017. Google Scholar

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Karaganis, Joe. Structures of Participation in Digital Culture. New York: Social Science Research Council, 2007. Structures of Participation in Digital Culture Google Scholar

Jenkins, Philip. Beyond Tolerance: Child Pornography on the Internet. New York: New York UP, 2001. Beyond Tolerance: Child Pornography on the Internet Google Scholar

Johnson, Thomas J. and Barbara K. Kaye. ‘Using Is Believing: The Influence of Reliance on the Credibility of Online Political Information among Politically Interested Internet Users’. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 77.4 (2000): 865-79. ‘Using Is Believing: The Influence of Reliance on the Credibility of Online Political Information among Politically Interested Internet Users’ Journalism & Mass Communication 77 865 79 Google Scholar

Kolko, Beth E. ‘Representing Bodies in Virtual Space: The Rhetoric of Avatar Design’. Information Society 15.3 (1999): 177-86. ‘Representing Bodies in Virtual Space: The Rhetoric of Avatar Design’ Information Society 15 177 86 Google Scholar

Lane, Christina. ‘The Strange Days of Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron’. The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow: Hollywood Transgressor. Ed. Deborah Jermyn and Sean Redmond. London: Wallflower, 2003. 178-97. ‘The Strange Days of Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron’ The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow 178 97 Google Scholar

Lunenfeld, Peter. ‘The Myths of Interactive Cinema’. Narrative Across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Ed. Marie-Laure Ryan. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2004. 377-90. ‘The Myths of Interactive Cinema’ Narrative Across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. 377 90 Google Scholar

Macek, Steve. ‘The Political Uses of the Neo-Noir City: Ideology, Genre, and the Urban Landscape in 8mm and Strange Days’. Journal of American & Comparative Cultures. 25.3-4 (2002): 375-83. ‘The Political Uses of the Neo-Noir City: Ideology, Genre, and the Urban Landscape in 8mm and Strange Days’ 8mm 4 375 83 Google Scholar

Marchessault, Janine and Haidee Wasson. ‘Eyewitness History: New Technologies and the Production of Visual Evidence’. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 4.3 (1998): 17-23. ‘Eyewitness History: New Technologies and the Production of Visual Evidence’ Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 4 17 23 Google Scholar

Massumi, Brian. ‘The Autonomy of Affect’. Observing Complexity: Systems Theory and Postmodernism. Ed. Willliam Rasch and Cary Wolfe. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2000. 273-97. ‘The Autonomy of Affect’ Observing Complexity: Systems Theory and Postmodernism 273 97 Google Scholar

Massumi, Brian. ‘Introduction’. Capitalism and Schizophrenia: A Thousand Plateaus. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Ed. and trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1987. i-xix. ‘Introduction’ Capitalism and Schizophrenia: A Thousand Plateaus Google Scholar

McDowell, Rider. ‘Movies to Die For’. San Francisco Chronicle (7 Aug 1994): 5. ‘Movies to Die For’ San Francisco Chronicle Google Scholar

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. Trans. Colin Smith. London: Routledge, 1962. Phenomenology of Perception Google Scholar

Mulvey, Laura. ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’. Screen 16.3 (1975): 6-18. ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ Screen 16 6 18 Google Scholar

O’Riordan, Kate. ‘Playing with Lara in Virtual Space’. Ed. Sally R. Munt. Technospaces: Inside the New Media. London: Continuum, 2001. 224-38. ‘Playing with Lara in Virtual Space’ Technospaces: Inside the New Media 224 38 Google Scholar

Palmer, William J. Films of the Nineties: The Decade of Spin. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Films of the Nineties: The Decade of Spin. Google Scholar

Patterson, Zabet. ‘Going On-Line: Consuming Pornography in the Digital Era’. Porn Studies. Ed. Linda Williams. Durham: Duke UP, 2004. 104-23. ‘Going On-Line: Consuming Pornography in the Digital Era’ Porn Studies 104 23 Google Scholar

Pisters, Patricia. ‘The Universe as Metacinema’. Psychoanalyzing Cinema: A Productive Encounter with Lacan, Deleuze, and Zizek. Ed. Jan Jagodzinski. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 169-203. ‘The Universe as Metacinema’ Psychoanalyzing Cinema: A Productive Encounter with Lacan, Deleuze, and Zizek 169 203 Google Scholar

Rascaroli, Laura. ‘Steel in the Gaze: On POV and the Discourse of Vision in Kathryn Bigelow’s Cinema’. Screen 38.3 (1997): 232-46. ‘Steel in the Gaze: On POV and the Discourse of Vision in Kathryn Bigelow’s Cinema’ Screen 38 232 46 Google Scholar

Rascaroli, Laura. ‘Strange Visions: Kathryn Bigelow’s Metafiction’. Enculturation 2.1 (1998). http://www.enculturation.net/2_1/rascaroli.html. Accessed 17 Jan 2017. Google Scholar

Rehling, Nicola. ‘Fleshing Out Virtual Bodies: White Heterosexual Masculinity in Contemporary Cyberfantasy Cinema’. The Future of Flesh: A Cultural Survey of the Body. Ed. Zoe Detsi-Diamanti, Katerina Kitsi-Mitakou and Effie Yiannopolou. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 181-98. ‘Fleshing Out Virtual Bodies: White Heterosexual Masculinity in Contemporary Cyberfantasy Cinema’ The Future of Flesh: A Cultural Survey of the Body 181 98 Google Scholar

Rodowick, D.N. The Virtual Life of Film. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2007. The Virtual Life of Film Google Scholar

Shaviro, Steven. ‘Straight From the Cerebral Cortex: Vision and Affect in Strange Days’. The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow: Hollywood Transgressor. Ed. Deborah Jermyn and Sean Redmond. London: Wallflower, 2003. 159-77. ‘Straight From the Cerebral Cortex: Vision and Affect in Strange DaysStrange Days 159 77 Google Scholar

Sobchack, Vivian. The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991. The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience Google Scholar

Tierney, Dolores Mary. ‘The Appeal of the Real in Snuff: Alejandro Amenábar’s Tesis (Thesis)’. Spectator 22.2 (2002): 45-55. ‘The Appeal of the Real in Snuff: Alejandro Amenábar’s Tesis (Thesis)’ Spectator 22 45 55 Google Scholar

Turkle, Sherry. ‘Computational Reticence: Why Women Fear the Intimate Machine’. Technology and Women’s Voices: Keeping in Touch. Ed. Cheris Kramarae. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1988. 33-49. ‘Computational Reticence: Why Women Fear the Intimate Machine’ Technology and Women’s Voices: Keeping in Touch 33 49 Google Scholar

Turkle, Sherry. ‘Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality: Playing in the MUDs’. Mind, Culture and Activity 1.3 (1994): 158-67. ‘Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality: Playing in the MUDs’ Mind, Culture and Activity 1 158 67 Google Scholar

Young, Paul. The Cinema Dreams Its Rivals: Media Fantasy Films from the Radio to the Internet. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2006. The Cinema Dreams Its Rivals: Media Fantasy Films from the Radio to the Internet Google Scholar

Zimmer, Catherine. ‘Surveillance and Social Memory: Strange Days Indeed’. Discourse 32.3 (2010): 302-20. ‘Surveillance and Social Memory: Strange Days Indeed’ Strange Days 32 302 20 Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. ‘Is It Possible to Traverse the Fantasy in Cyberspace?’ The Žižek Reader. Ed. Elizabeth Wright and Edmond Wright. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999. 104-24. ‘Is It Possible to Traverse the Fantasy in Cyberspace?’ The Žižek Reader 104 24 Google Scholar

Baron, Cynthia. ‘The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow: Hollywood Transgressor’. Quarterly Review of Film and Video 23.5 (2006): 456-60. ‘The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow: Hollywood Transgressor’ Quarterly Review of Film and Video 23 456 60 Google Scholar

Bassett, Caroline. ‘Virtually Gendered: Life in an On-Line World’. The Subcultures Reader. Ed. Ken Gelder and Sarah Thornton. London: Routledge, 1997. 537-50. ‘Virtually Gendered: Life in an On-Line World’ The Subcultures Reader. 537 50 Google Scholar

Berrettini, Mark. ‘Can “We All” Get Along? Social Difference, The Future, and Strange Days’. Camera Obscura 17.2 (2002): 155-89. ‘Can “We All” Get Along? Social Difference, The Future, and Strange DaysStrange Days 17 155 89 Google Scholar

Bolter, Jay David and Grusin, Richard. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000. Remediation: Understanding New Media Google Scholar

Bruckman, Amy S. ‘Gender Swapping on the Internet’. High Noon on the Electronic Frontier: Conceptual Issues in Cyberspace. Ed. Peter Ludlow. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996. 317-26. ‘Gender Swapping on the Internet’ High Noon on the Electronic Frontier: Conceptual Issues in Cyberspace 317 26 Google Scholar

Burnett, Ron. How Images Think. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004. How Images Think Google Scholar

Caro, Mark. ‘Legend Lives on, Despite No Proof that Snuff Films Exist’. Chicago Tribune (26 Feb 1999). http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-02-26/features/9902260327_1_snuff-yaron-svoray-films. Accessed 13 Jan 2017. Google Scholar

Carr, Brian. ‘Strange Days and the Subject of Mobility’. Camera Obscura 17.2 (2002): 191-217. ‘Strange Days and the Subject of Mobility’ Camera Obscura 17 191 217 Google Scholar

Clover, Carol J. Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1992. Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film Google Scholar

Collisions Film Homepage. http://www.collisionsvr.com/. Accessed 17 Sep 2017. Google Scholar

Demos, E. Virginia. ‘An Affect Revolution: Silvan Tomkins’s Affect Theory’. Exploring Affect: The Selected Writings of Silvan S. Tomkins.Ed. E. Virginia Demos. New York: Cambridge UP, 1995. 17-26. ‘An Affect Revolution: Silvan Tomkins’s Affect Theory’ Exploring Affect: The Selected Writings of Silvan S. 17 26 Google Scholar

Dibbell, Julian. ‘A Rape in Cyberspace’. The Village Voice (21 Dec 1993): 36-42. ‘A Rape in Cyberspace’ The Village Voice 36 42 Google Scholar

Doane, Mary Ann. The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, the Archive. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2002. The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, the Archive Google Scholar

Donovan, Pamela. No Way of Knowing: Crime, Urban Legends and the Internet. New York: Routledge, 2003. No Way of Knowing: Crime, Urban Legends and the Internet Google Scholar

Elmer-DeWitt, Philip. ‘On a Screen Near You: Cyberporn’. Time (3 Jul 1995): 37-41. ‘On a Screen Near You: Cyberporn’ Time 37 41 Google Scholar

Gormley, Paul. ‘Trashing Whiteness: Pulp Fiction, Se7en, Strange Days, and Articulating Affect’. Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 6.1 (2001): 155-71. ‘Trashing Whiteness: Pulp Fiction, Se7en, Strange Days, and Articulating Affect’ Pulp Fiction 6 155 71 Google Scholar

Grant, Barry Keith. ‘Strange Days: Gender and Ideology in New Genre Films’. Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls: Gender in Film at the End of the Twentieth Century. Ed. Murray Pomerance. New York: SUNY Press, 2001. 184-99. ‘Strange Days: Gender and Ideology in New Genre Films’ Strange Days 184 99 Google Scholar

Hayles, N. Katherine and Nicholas Gessler. ‘The Slipstream of Mixed Reality: Unstable Ontologies and Semiotic Markers in The Thirteenth Floor, Dark City and Mulholland Drive’. PMLA 119.3 (2001): 482-99. ‘The Slipstream of Mixed Reality: Unstable Ontologies and Semiotic Markers in The Thirteenth Floor, Dark City and Mulholland Drive’ The Thirteenth Floor 19 482 99 Google Scholar

Herring, Susan C. ‘Gender and Power in Online Communication’. The Handbook of Language and Gender. Ed. Janet Holmes and Miriam Meyerhoff. Malden: Blackwell, 2003. 202-28. ‘Gender and Power in Online Communication’ The Handbook of Language and Gender. 202 28 Google Scholar

Horeck, Tanya. Public Rape: Representing Violation in Fiction and Film. London: Routledge, 2004. Public Rape: Representing Violation in Fiction and Film Google Scholar

Iris VR Inc. ‘TECHNOLUST’. http://irisvirtualreality.com/un-portfolio/technolust-2/. Accessed 17 Sep 2017. Google Scholar

Karaganis, Joe. Structures of Participation in Digital Culture. New York: Social Science Research Council, 2007. Structures of Participation in Digital Culture Google Scholar

Jenkins, Philip. Beyond Tolerance: Child Pornography on the Internet. New York: New York UP, 2001. Beyond Tolerance: Child Pornography on the Internet Google Scholar

Johnson, Thomas J. and Barbara K. Kaye. ‘Using Is Believing: The Influence of Reliance on the Credibility of Online Political Information among Politically Interested Internet Users’. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 77.4 (2000): 865-79. ‘Using Is Believing: The Influence of Reliance on the Credibility of Online Political Information among Politically Interested Internet Users’ Journalism & Mass Communication 77 865 79 Google Scholar

Kolko, Beth E. ‘Representing Bodies in Virtual Space: The Rhetoric of Avatar Design’. Information Society 15.3 (1999): 177-86. ‘Representing Bodies in Virtual Space: The Rhetoric of Avatar Design’ Information Society 15 177 86 Google Scholar

Lane, Christina. ‘The Strange Days of Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron’. The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow: Hollywood Transgressor. Ed. Deborah Jermyn and Sean Redmond. London: Wallflower, 2003. 178-97. ‘The Strange Days of Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron’ The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow 178 97 Google Scholar

Lunenfeld, Peter. ‘The Myths of Interactive Cinema’. Narrative Across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Ed. Marie-Laure Ryan. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2004. 377-90. ‘The Myths of Interactive Cinema’ Narrative Across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. 377 90 Google Scholar

Macek, Steve. ‘The Political Uses of the Neo-Noir City: Ideology, Genre, and the Urban Landscape in 8mm and Strange Days’. Journal of American & Comparative Cultures. 25.3-4 (2002): 375-83. ‘The Political Uses of the Neo-Noir City: Ideology, Genre, and the Urban Landscape in 8mm and Strange Days’ 8mm 4 375 83 Google Scholar

Marchessault, Janine and Haidee Wasson. ‘Eyewitness History: New Technologies and the Production of Visual Evidence’. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 4.3 (1998): 17-23. ‘Eyewitness History: New Technologies and the Production of Visual Evidence’ Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 4 17 23 Google Scholar

Massumi, Brian. ‘The Autonomy of Affect’. Observing Complexity: Systems Theory and Postmodernism. Ed. Willliam Rasch and Cary Wolfe. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2000. 273-97. ‘The Autonomy of Affect’ Observing Complexity: Systems Theory and Postmodernism 273 97 Google Scholar

Massumi, Brian. ‘Introduction’. Capitalism and Schizophrenia: A Thousand Plateaus. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Ed. and trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1987. i-xix. ‘Introduction’ Capitalism and Schizophrenia: A Thousand Plateaus Google Scholar

McDowell, Rider. ‘Movies to Die For’. San Francisco Chronicle (7 Aug 1994): 5. ‘Movies to Die For’ San Francisco Chronicle Google Scholar

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. Trans. Colin Smith. London: Routledge, 1962. Phenomenology of Perception Google Scholar

Mulvey, Laura. ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’. Screen 16.3 (1975): 6-18. ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ Screen 16 6 18 Google Scholar

O’Riordan, Kate. ‘Playing with Lara in Virtual Space’. Ed. Sally R. Munt. Technospaces: Inside the New Media. London: Continuum, 2001. 224-38. ‘Playing with Lara in Virtual Space’ Technospaces: Inside the New Media 224 38 Google Scholar

Palmer, William J. Films of the Nineties: The Decade of Spin. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Films of the Nineties: The Decade of Spin. Google Scholar

Patterson, Zabet. ‘Going On-Line: Consuming Pornography in the Digital Era’. Porn Studies. Ed. Linda Williams. Durham: Duke UP, 2004. 104-23. ‘Going On-Line: Consuming Pornography in the Digital Era’ Porn Studies 104 23 Google Scholar

Pisters, Patricia. ‘The Universe as Metacinema’. Psychoanalyzing Cinema: A Productive Encounter with Lacan, Deleuze, and Zizek. Ed. Jan Jagodzinski. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 169-203. ‘The Universe as Metacinema’ Psychoanalyzing Cinema: A Productive Encounter with Lacan, Deleuze, and Zizek 169 203 Google Scholar

Rascaroli, Laura. ‘Steel in the Gaze: On POV and the Discourse of Vision in Kathryn Bigelow’s Cinema’. Screen 38.3 (1997): 232-46. ‘Steel in the Gaze: On POV and the Discourse of Vision in Kathryn Bigelow’s Cinema’ Screen 38 232 46 Google Scholar

Rascaroli, Laura. ‘Strange Visions: Kathryn Bigelow’s Metafiction’. Enculturation 2.1 (1998). http://www.enculturation.net/2_1/rascaroli.html. Accessed 17 Jan 2017. Google Scholar

Rehling, Nicola. ‘Fleshing Out Virtual Bodies: White Heterosexual Masculinity in Contemporary Cyberfantasy Cinema’. The Future of Flesh: A Cultural Survey of the Body. Ed. Zoe Detsi-Diamanti, Katerina Kitsi-Mitakou and Effie Yiannopolou. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 181-98. ‘Fleshing Out Virtual Bodies: White Heterosexual Masculinity in Contemporary Cyberfantasy Cinema’ The Future of Flesh: A Cultural Survey of the Body 181 98 Google Scholar

Rodowick, D.N. The Virtual Life of Film. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2007. The Virtual Life of Film Google Scholar

Shaviro, Steven. ‘Straight From the Cerebral Cortex: Vision and Affect in Strange Days’. The Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow: Hollywood Transgressor. Ed. Deborah Jermyn and Sean Redmond. London: Wallflower, 2003. 159-77. ‘Straight From the Cerebral Cortex: Vision and Affect in Strange DaysStrange Days 159 77 Google Scholar

Sobchack, Vivian. The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991. The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience Google Scholar

Tierney, Dolores Mary. ‘The Appeal of the Real in Snuff: Alejandro Amenábar’s Tesis (Thesis)’. Spectator 22.2 (2002): 45-55. ‘The Appeal of the Real in Snuff: Alejandro Amenábar’s Tesis (Thesis)’ Spectator 22 45 55 Google Scholar

Turkle, Sherry. ‘Computational Reticence: Why Women Fear the Intimate Machine’. Technology and Women’s Voices: Keeping in Touch. Ed. Cheris Kramarae. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1988. 33-49. ‘Computational Reticence: Why Women Fear the Intimate Machine’ Technology and Women’s Voices: Keeping in Touch 33 49 Google Scholar

Turkle, Sherry. ‘Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality: Playing in the MUDs’. Mind, Culture and Activity 1.3 (1994): 158-67. ‘Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality: Playing in the MUDs’ Mind, Culture and Activity 1 158 67 Google Scholar

Young, Paul. The Cinema Dreams Its Rivals: Media Fantasy Films from the Radio to the Internet. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2006. The Cinema Dreams Its Rivals: Media Fantasy Films from the Radio to the Internet Google Scholar

Zimmer, Catherine. ‘Surveillance and Social Memory: Strange Days Indeed’. Discourse 32.3 (2010): 302-20. ‘Surveillance and Social Memory: Strange Days Indeed’ Strange Days 32 302 20 Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. ‘Is It Possible to Traverse the Fantasy in Cyberspace?’ The Žižek Reader. Ed. Elizabeth Wright and Edmond Wright. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999. 104-24. ‘Is It Possible to Traverse the Fantasy in Cyberspace?’ The Žižek Reader 104 24 Google Scholar

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Withers, Emma J.