Nina Cvar: From »Passion towards the Real« to Plastic Image

Spectres of Reality of Neoliberal Global Capitalism


Film's ability to retranscribe the real by offering a new image of it is perhaps the most immanent characteristic of the medium, affirming its unique potential in reproduction of the real and reality. However, what does actually mean, when we speak about retranscription of the real and reality in reference to representation and politics? If, according to Francesco Casetti, film embodies the gaze of the twentieth century, bestowing meaning on its experience by elaboration of its ambivalent and by all means violent genealogy, a question needs to be posed: What happens with the status of film and the cinematic image in the course of the abovementioned process of retranscription in the new century? Alain Badiou associates the 20th century with the so-called »passion towards the real«, film, especially its avant-garde manifestation, being the ultimate embodiment of Badiou’s term; on the other hand, it seems that in the age of extensive use of new media and global prevalence of neoliberal capitalism »the passion towards the real« has evaporated, leaving behind only spectres of representation and spectacularizations of affect. Contrary to theoretical perspectives, claiming »the end of representation«, we would like to suggest otherwise, by proposing a thesis of the existence of a plastic image. By delineating the phenomenon of the plastic image, referring to Catherine Malabou’s work on plasticity, we would like to show the rise of unstable, yet very present materiality of representation, especially present in global expansion of docu-style aesthetics, consequently problematizing the neuralgic relation between politics of aesthetic and anesthetization of politics in reference to the scopic regime of neoliberal global capitalism.