Media Heterotopias

Digital Effects and Material Labor in Global Film Production

Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: 55 illustrations Published: February 2018

Author: Hye Jean Chung

Cultural Studies, Media Studies > Film, Media Technologies

In Media Heterotopias Hye Jean Chung challenges the widespread tendency among audiences and critics to disregard the material conditions of digital film production. Drawing on interviews with directors, producers, special effects supervisors, and other film industry workers, Chung traces how the rhetorical and visual emphasis on seamlessness masks the social, political, and economic realities of global filmmaking and digital labor. In films such as Avatar (2009), Interstellar (2014), and The Host (2006)—which combine live action footage with CGI to create new hybrid environments—filmmaking techniques and "seamless" digital effects allow the globally dispersed labor involved to go unnoticed by audiences. Chung adapts Foucault's notion of heterotopic spaces to foreground this labor and to theorize cinematic space as a textured, multilayered assemblage in which filmmaking occurs in transnational collaborations that depend upon the global movement of bodies, resources, images, and commodities. Acknowledging cinema's increasingly digitized and globalized workflow, Chung reconnects digitally constructed and composited imagery with the reality of production spaces and laboring bodies to highlight the political, social, ethical, and aesthetic stakes in recognizing the materiality of collaborative filmmaking.


"Chung’s 'media heterotopias' could be of immense use as a strategic motivator of more work that is oriented toward activist, political stakes in the spatiotemporal mappings of yet unfolding digital age ecologies." — Amy R. Wong, ASAP/Journal

"Media Heterotopias’ ambitious effort to 'reassert the materiality of global film production' serves as valuable encouragement to deconstruct the ever-more refined illusions of unity in international film production through new approaches in thinking and viewing. The breadth of ideas and the quality of research presented in Chung’s work regularly enlightens, just as it orients us towards the political stakes of filmmaking." — Sarika Joglekar, Synoptique

"As a method of exploring and articulating the digital imaginary and fantasies of transnational or cosmopolitan other places, Media Heterotopias is an inspiring and intriguing accompaniment to the work of production studies and media industries scholars who focus directly on the issues and conditions surrounding digital global production, labor, networks, and practices." — Dawn Fratini, Media Industries

"Hye Jean Chung's ambitious and provocative project provides a multilevel account that synthesizes issues of disruptive digital ‘workflows,’ with Foucault's theory, and a prescient account of globalization in order to demonstrate how each works at the close-up level of the composited film text. This is the rare production studies book that avoids the traps of trade-speak, even as it makes theory and culture inextricable from our understanding of industry." — John T. Caldwell, author of Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television

"Following Foucault's notion of 'heterotopia,'of topoi or even utopoi composed of multiple platforms layered and contested that are rendered into a single, phantasmatic whole, Hye Jean Chung proposes 'media heterotopias' as a way to understand the infusion of digital effects in contemporary cinema. At the heart of her analysis lies an affective paradox that transforms complexity, distortion, and incongruity in digital cinemas into the narcotic illusion of 'seamlessness.' At once erudite, rigorous, and highly speculative, Chung's contribution to the scholarship on digital cinemas suggests a frenzy of incoherence driving the soothing surfaces of digital effects and the labor that generates them." — Akira Mizuta Lippit, author of Cinema without Reflection: Jacques Derrida’s Echopoiesis and Narcissism Adrift


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Hye Jean Chung is Assistant Professor in the School of Global Communication at Kyung Hee University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction  1
1. Heterotopic Media: Assembling the Global in Digital Cinema  37
2. Heterotopic Mapping: The Fall and Ashes of Time Redux  45
3. Heterotopic Modularity: Avatar, Oblivion, and Interstellar 75
4. Heterotopic Monstrosity: The Host and Godzilla  105
5. Heterotopic Materiality: The World and Big Hero 6  141
Conclusion: The Seams of (Post)Digital Media Heterotopias  177
Notes  185
Bibliography  209
Index  219
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-7023-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-7014-7
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