Waking Life: The Destiny of Cinema’s Dreamscape; or the Question of Old and New Mediations


  • Markos Hadjioannou




In light of the current transition from celluloid to digital cinema, this paper will explore the relation between old and new technologies as a means for understanding medium specificity as an activity of mediation. While the ongoing debate in screen studies aims at clarifying the extent of digital technology’s effects, it seems that the new technology is either being interpreted as inducing a rupture in film history clearly distinct from celluloid, or as directly repeating strategies, goals, forms, and impulses specific to an indexical and analogical visual culture. Indeed, the desire to acknowledge points of divergence or close interaction between technological forms is unquestionably useful; but my own approach to the technological change takes into account both the differences and similarities of forms as a means of exploring medium specificity. This will be a matter of dealing with the new as not new or old, but new and old – as simultaneously distinct and interactively interrelated, so that each medium acquires a space of its own without fixed boundaries. Rather than merge the one form into the other, the ontological explication of a medium may take account of its specific technological base while simultaneously paying attention to previous technologies that reside in it intact yet affected by the contextual possibilities of the new. Newness, thus understood, becomes a complex concurrency of differences and similarities that shift the borders of distinct forms in unexpected and continually renewable ways. With this in mind, I will discuss an example of digital mediation through Richard Linklater’s Waking Life (2001), with a focus on the digital’s power for a creative interpretation of reality’s experience.