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From Light to ByteToward an Ethics of Digital Cinema$
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Markos Hadjioannou

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677610

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677610.001.0001

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The Reality of the Index, or Where Does the Truth Lie?

The Reality of the Index, or Where Does the Truth Lie?

(p.39) 1 The Reality of the Index, or Where Does the Truth Lie?
From Light to Byte

Markos Hadjioannou

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter considers the debate surrounding the index, its authenticity, and its relation to reality. More specifically, it examines the terms on which the digital is understood to rival celluloid’s ability to convey reality. It first considers how the photographic image visualizes reality’s physical behaviors and patterns by looking at Charles Sanders Peirce’s argument that photography is an example of the index and clarifying what is involved in his notion of the index. It then examines Peirce’s insistence on the relationship between signification and reality as well as his emphasis on the subject’s participation in the creation of meaning in signs. It also discusses André Bazin’s theorization of celluloid’s existential guarantee, along with his emphasis on two aesthetic forms that directly manifest celluloid film’s unique ability to reveal the world: the long take and deep focus. Finally, it analyzes a number of films to illustrate the problem with an understanding of indexicality as a matter of authentic objectivity, including Errol Morris’s The Thin Blue Line (1988), Alain Resnais’s Night and Fog (1955), and Robert Zemeckis’s Forrest Gump (1994).

Keywords:   index, Charles Sanders Peirce, photography, signification, André Bazin, celluloid film, indexicality, objectivity

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