Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

Special effects, CGI and uncanny affect: envisioning the post-cinematic uncanny

Card, William Edward (2016) Special effects, CGI and uncanny affect: envisioning the post-cinematic uncanny. Masters thesis (MA), Manchester Metropolitan University.


Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (3MB) | Preview


This thesis presents and discusses the author’s practice-based artistic research. It situates the work, an investigation into the post-cinematic uncanny and the affective potential of visual effects technologies in art practice, within a theoretical context and aims to illuminate aspects of our relationship to certain types of digitally augmented contemporary moving imagery. The practice explores the post-cinematic uncanny as an intersection of visual arts, moving image, animation, cinema, television and visual effects, linking it to theories of psychoanalysis, affect and post-cinema. It questions the nature and qualities of moving image in the 21st century, especially the pervasive and ubiquitous nature of computer-generated imagery (CGI) that supplements and augments digitally captured footage. In doing so it creates, explores and situates the post-cinematic uncanny within contemporary arts practice. The work employs technologies that were, until relatively recently, the preserve of high-end visual effects productions and aims to engender uncanny affect in its audience. It thus falls under the purview of Steven Shaviro’s speculations on post-cinematic affect (2010). This ‘post-cinematic’ refers to the transformation of moving image practice and culture, driven in part by the move to digital acquisition, manipulation, distribution, display and networked consumption. It provides a conceptual framework for this practice in relation to the wider context of cinema and moving image production. In the practice, visual effects technologies have been employed site-specifically to create the impression of things unknown yet familiar, occupying a liminal zone between biomorphic and mechanical form and patterned on human-designed objects and environments. These reside in the screen-space, creating new associations, fantastic implied narratives and extra-dimensional mplications in otherwise mundane spaces. Disconnected from the profilmic event, these computer-generated images may be 'perceptually realistic but referentially unreal’ (Prince, 2002:124) and yet have no connection to the profilmic beyond an urge towards the ‘paradox of perceptual realism’ (Rodowick, 2007:101). In this respect, CGI visual effects imagery may analogous to Freud's uncanny double (1919).

Impact and Reach


Activity Overview

Additional statistics for this dataset are available via IRStats2.

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item