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University of Toronto Quarterly (2014) - The Actor Who Wasn't There: Economies of Absence in Virtual Ecologies




Cinema machines have striven in increasingly elaborate ways to eliminate any sense of the foundational absence of the cinematographic apparatus that underwrites the wonder of its spectacle. Recent digital media technologies play out the hoaxic economy of virtual lures offered by layered sound and imaging apparatuses. The last fifteen years of filmic present absence or absent presence result from a series of attempts to produce cinematically the illusion of spatiotemporal presence when, by definition, nothing in the cinema is actually "there" except resurrected light and sound wave patterns. Deploying the spatial geometries of 3D mapping combined with mechanisms of human sensory perception, these digital machines displace physiological mechanisms of perception into the modes by which images and sound are captured and transmitted.