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Reality & Effect_ a Cultural History of Visual Effects

Reality & Effect_ a Cultural History of Visual Effects

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07/15/2013

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Georgia State University 
Reality & Effect: A Cultural History of VisualEffects
 Jae Hyung Ryu
This Dissertation is brought to you for free and open access by the Department of Communication at Digital Archive @ GSU. It has been accepted forinclusion in Communication Dissertations by an authorized administrator of Digital Archive @ GSU. For more information, please contactdigitalarchive@gsu.edu.
Recommended Citation
Ryu, Jae Hyung, "Reality & Effect: A Cultural History of Visual Effects" (2007).
Communication Dissertations.
Paper 13.http://digitalarchive.gsu.edu/communication_diss/13
 
REALITY & EFFECT: A CULTURAL HISTORY OF VISUAL EFFECTSbyJAE HYUNG RYUUnder the Direction of Ted FriedmanABSTRACTThe purpose of this dissertation is to chart how the development of visual effects haschanged popular cinema’s vision of the real, producing the powerful reality effect. Myinvestigation of the history of visual effects studies not only the industrial and economic contextof visual effects, but also the aesthetic characteristics of the reality effect. In terms of methodology, this study employs a theoretical discourse which compares the parallels betweenvisual effects and the discourse of modernity/postmodernity, utilizing close textual analysis tounderstand the symptomatic meanings of key texts.The transition in the techniques and meanings of creating visual effects reflects thecultural transformation from modernism to postmodernism. Visual effects have developed byadapting to the structural transformation of production systems and with the advance of technology. The studio system strongly controlled the classical Hollywood cinema by means of the modern economic production system of Fordism. Breakdown of Hollywood classicism as aproduction system gave rise to the creation of digital effects with the rise of the concept of theblockbuster and with the development of computer technologies. I argue that the characteristicfeature of time-space compression, occurring in the process of the transition from Fordism toflexible accumulation, clearly reflects that of compression of multi-layered time and space,
 
generated in the development process from analog visual effects, such as trick, rear and frontprojection, to the digital effects, such as rotoscoping and CGI animation. While the aesthetics of analog visual effects, without computing, can be compared to a Fordist production system,digital effects, which hugely rely on CGI manipulation, are examples of flexible accumulation.As a case study of the local resistance or alternative of Hollywood today, I examine theeffects-oriented Korean nationalist blockbuster. The Korean nationalist blockbuster films havesought large-scale filmmaking and presentation of spectacular scenes, including heavydependence on the use of special effects, which is frequently considered a Hollywood style. Thisparadoxical combination of peculiar Korean subjects and Hollywood style can be viewed as aform of cultural jujitsu, taking advantage of the force of the dominant culture in order to resistand subvert it.INDEX WORDS: Special Effects, Visual Effects, Digital Effects, CGI, Tricks, Modernism,Fordism, Postmodernism, Reality Effect, Time-space Compression,Trickality, Korean Blockbuster, Cultural Jujitsu, Korean Wave, Hallyu,
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