For your Glaze Only: Imperfect Divinity

By William Anselmi and Sheena Wilson.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Images are consuming the human-ness of the body. Present reconfigurations of humanity’s goals have targeted the human body as a malleable tabula rasa formed by the etchings of an image-based consumer society, the society of the spectacle. Sculpting the body as a medium of transcendence and idealizing its form as attainable perfection—the parameters of which come to us via Western paradigms of artistic beauty (from high art, to cinema, to commercial advertising)—are practices that drive us towards a very contested post-human realization. With the associated abandonment of ethical premises that once constituted the basis for social cohesion, Western societies are reformulating citizenship: social beings are defining their individual identities according to lego-aesthetics that, in fact, deny human individuality and encourage composite identities constructed on predetermined models of acceptability. Our virtual presentation (paper) will expose such practices, through a theoretical analysis of two different cultural texts: the first, a video commercial about plastic surgery
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua3sm5NhJ3s&feature=related) and the second, an x-ray pin-
up calendar(http://www.repubbica.it/tecnologia/2010/06/18/foto/calendari_ai_raggi_x-4945752/1/?
ref=HRESS-2). These texts illustrate the processes of exposing and colonizing the “inner-self”. The video promotes plastic surgery for its potential to deliver the human body’s own while the pin-up eroticizes the female skeletal structure. These image-based constructions of reality have embarked upon phantasmagoria/immateriality as the body’s final destination. We will expose these contemporary practices and transformations of social perceptions and representations of the body, through a critical and theoretical analysis.

Keywords: Female, Body, Post-human, Image Technologies, Representations, Beauty, Aesthetics, Ethics, Citizenship

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.73-86. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 857.151KB).

Dr. William Anselmi

Professor, Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

William Anselmi is Full Professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada. He has co-edited and co-authored a number of books on ethnicity, multiculturalism and media representations. His work addresses a broad range of areas, from Italian and Italian Canadian literature and culture to a focus on cinema, media and television studies. Recent projects involve the exploration of narcissism and immortality in the deployment of post-human technological apparatuses. Dr. William Anselmi and Dr. Sheena Wilson are working on a book project to address contrasting and/or collaborative modes of representation in documentary and mainstream feature films. Two recent articles linked to this larger project include “Slumdogging It: Rebranding the American Dream, New World Orders, and Neo-Colonialism” (2009); “Performative Radicalism in Contemporary Canadian Documentary Film” (2009); and “Technologies of Memory, Identity and Oblivion in Persepolis” (2007) and “Waltz with Bashir” (2009). (forthcoming). They are two of the co-founders and managing editors of an online open access journal called Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies.

Dr. Sheena Wilson

Assistant Professor, Campus Saint-Jean, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Sheena Wilson is Assistant Professor and Director of the Bilingual Writing Centre at Campus Saint-Jean, the University of Alberta’s Francophone faculty. She is the author of numerous journal articles and she has co-edited a collection on marginalized languages, cultures and literatures titled Writing After the Gaze: the Rupture of the Historical (2007). She is a co-founder and co-managing editor of Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies. Her research interests involve an interdisciplinary approach to the study of human/civil rights abuses in cultural representations, and the relationship between the written word and the image as discursive referents in socio-political contexts. Related areas of interest include patterns of exclusion exercised on non-dominant communities within the paradigm of state-multiculturalism. She is particularly interested in how women writers and filmmakers represent marginalization, the reception of ethno-cultural media representations, as well as women in the rhetorical tradition. Her edited collection Joy Kogawa: Essays on Her Works is forthcoming with Guernica Press in 2011. Dr. Wilson and Dr. Anselmi are conducting related research on the de-politicization of film as an instrument of social change through specific recent practices in documentary and mainstream film. As well, they have and continue to develop theoretical discourses and analyses with regards to the relationships between the organic world and technologies of the body as represented in media environments.