Techniques of the invisible: Cinematic images of being addicted

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AIMS - This study analyses how contemporary American films on “new”, behavioural addictions (sex, gambling and shopping) visualise the inner experience of being addicted. DESIGN - A close-reading of cinematic techniques (such as cinematography, editing, sound and colour) at the beginning of six films explores how the spectator is invited into an affective engagement with the film, and how being addicted can be visualised through these techniques. RESULTS - Despite genre differences and various types of addiction problems, the analysed films all employ expressive techniques that resonate with each other. Being addicted is imagined through confessional monologues which provide access into the anomalous inner experience, through a sensualising of the objects of addiction as both enticing and repelling, and through an aesthetics of disconnections and distance. While similar modes recur, the cinematic image of being addicted can also be subversive. CONCLUSION - The affective modes of the films emphasise intimacy and exploration of the self, central to the modern strategies of managing addiction problems. However, the cinematic images also enable subversive affective registers of images of addiction as an inner experience.

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