Insides Out: Visualizing Bodily Interiority
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7/16/2018 at 6:04:56 PM GMT
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Insides Out: Visualizing Bodily Interiority

This panel addresses the use of special effects and animation to construct aesthetics and narratives of bodily interiority within a range of different media. From its inception, cinema has a strong tradition of centering visual pleasure on and inside the body. Julia Kristeva famously argued that the abject is the bodily interiority made visible and distanced from the self, only to return with uncanny familiarity. Horror and porn scholars note the narrative necessity of exposing the insides: “The interior of the body ceases to be a private space, and the distinction between what is inside and what is outside begins to break down.” From the sudden plunge inside the arm of the protagonist in 127 Hours (2010) as he attempts to amputate using a Swiss Army knife, to the sinking space of Chris’s body-made-prison via hypnosis in Get Out (2017), to the team of curators that upload memories to control Riley’s emotions in Pixar’s Inside Out (2015), the revolutions in digital animation and special effect has made it easier for cinema to explore interiority in new ways. 

· Metaphors: In “A Cyborg Manifesto,” Donna Haraway argued that scientific images of the body during the cold war reconstructed the body’s interiority as outer space, a wild frontier to be explored and conquered. How have the visual metaphors changed?


· Gender and Racialization: How is the body’s interiority marked, racialized, gendered, or eroticized? (Osmosis Jones, Under the Skin, Inside Out, Get Out)


· Technology: What are the technologies used to depict the inside of the body? Fantastic Voyage was famous for utilizing matte paintings to provide a sense of the body as cavernous and unknown. How have new forms of imaging or special effects shifted what stories are told about the inside of the body? What is the role of realism in digital animation of the body? (Fight Club, 127 Hours, Contagion)


·  Psychological Interiority: What is the relationship between bodily interiority and psychology in films about going inside the body, especially those that seek to image the chambers of the brain (Inside Out, Being John Malkovich). How do we gleam information about psychology from the attentive focus to bodily interiority (Under the Skin, The Untamed, Get Out, Upstream Color)?


·  Genealogy: What is the genealogy of films/media that explore the inside the body? What are the conventions, and how, if at all, are they shifting? (Osmosis Jones, Inner Space, Fantastic Voyage)


·  Medicine: One of the great advancements in medicine is the ability image the interiority of the body in non-invasion ways: MRI, CT Scan, X-Ray, Capsule Endoscopy (swallow a tiny camera that records video as it moves through the digestive system). These technologies are central to diagnosis. What would a media studies approach bring to these imaging technologies? How has the move toward genetics in medicine, such as the popular 23andMe, shifted the visualization of the interiority of the body? (CSI, NCIS, House, Contagion)


Please send a 200-300 word abstract and brief bio to Zachary Price at by August 1st.

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