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The Normalisation of Surveillance Through the Prism of Film: A Practice-based Study

carr, jonathan (2015) The Normalisation of Surveillance Through the Prism of Film: A Practice-based Study. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This practice-based research project uses a study of the key technological, political and social triggers that have brought about the normalisation of surveillance to identify the ways in which cinema has, over the last two decades, reflected the transformation of top/down institutional monitoring into a complex, criss-crossing dynamic that allows citizens to look up and challenge authority figures as well as peer across at each other both off- and online. The research illustrates that the domestication and demystification of monitoring has resulted in citizens playing an active part in the surveillance game while also making them more accepting of an institutional gaze that whistleblowers like NSA contractor Edward Snowden have demonstrated is being used to a greater extent than ever before. At the same time, the vast majority of contemporary films utilise the aesthetics and practices of surveillance primarily for the purpose of spectacle rather than presenting narratives and characters that help to investigate how the new monitoring dynamic is changing the way in which we watch and interact with each other, the media and our popular culture. While recognising the many positive aspects of ‘new’ surveillance this thesis argues that cinema must return to its historical position as a scrutiniser of institutional and domestic-based monitoring and my creative practice is a direct response to the shortcomings of current big screen depictions. The feature screenplay, Function Creep, contemporises the characters and tropes of classic surveillance narratives like Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation (1974) and Sydney Pollack’s Three Days of the Condor (1975) while the short film, Groucho, uses satire and stylistic experimentation to investigate counter surveillance by citizens in a domestic setting and the way in which Internet content can reach and engage a global audience.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Theatre, Film & Television (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.701466
Depositing User: jonathan carr
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2017 11:29
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:21
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/15775

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