Laura Schuster works on a dissertation – ‘Media Fictions: The Cultural Imaginary of Technology in Contemporary Cinema’ – that explores the relations between science fiction films, media theory, and actual developments in media technology. For this she received a PhD fellowship from the University of Amsterdam / Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA).
The project concerns a corpus of films that take technological innovations and media technologies as a direct subject through topics such as surveillance, simulation, and tele-presence. It offers a theoretical framework for these cultural artefacts, or “media fictions” – case studies include Blade Runner (1982), After Life / Wandafuru Raifu (1998), Code 46 (2003), Off Screen (2005), Deja Vu (2006), A Scanner Darkly (2006), and White Noise (2006) – that untangles their engagement with questions of technology (including that of cinema) by focusing on the concept of mediation: a technological mode of representation that pervades these films in many different ways. By establishing three main paradoxes of mediation (the eternal drive for immediate mediated access, the mutual dependencies of futurism and nostalgia, and the constant oscillation between technophilia and technophobia that accompanies technological innovation), this dissertation uncovers historical constants in the cultural imaginary of technology and assesses the peculiar position of mainstream narrative cinema within the contemporary media ecology.
Promotores: Prof. Dr. Thomas Elsaesser, Prof. Dr. Michael Wedel.