Framing The Bling Ring: (Im)material Psychogeography and Screen Technology

2017-05-23T00:30:59Z (GMT) by Laura Henderson
Many authors (notably Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Žižek, Brian Massumi and Lev Manovich) have considered aspects of the material/virtual collapse. However, the emergence of new media platforms has revealed a new avenue of inquiry: a currently unexplored connection between material and immaterial landscapes through psychogeography. Taking Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring (2013) as a case study, this paper outlines the permeation of the virtual and actual in contemporary Los Angeles (or, more specifically, Hollywood), a transfer aided by expectation and repetition. Blurring the distinction between the filmic and the geographic, this paper presents a meditation on the impact of landscapes on the spectator, and of the spectator on these landscapes. With specific reference to the intrusion of small screen and camera technology in the world of The Bling Ring, this paper examines how the proliferation of screens has led to an enriched, framed and digital cartography of the material world. The Hollywood depicted in The Bling Ring is revealed to be a reflection of a reflection, a cinematic representation that recursively alters our expectation of a place, and in turn changes the manner of its depiction. Thus The Bling Ring both expresses Coppola’s psychogeographic impression while constituting further alteration of the collective psychogeography of Los Angeles. For clarity’s sake, this paper refers to “psychogeography” as outlined by Giuliana Bruno in Atlas of Emotion: that of a fundamentally imaginary space suffuse with memory and emotion, one drawn from either fiction or from the subject’s impressionistic memories of place. Psychogeography in this sense exists at the intersection between a space’s affect and materiality; and the subject’s impression and expectation. In order to understand the roots of the spectator’s relationship with psychogeography, I begin my inquiry as broadly as possible, by examining the theory of collective place from Michel de Certeau’s Practice of Everyday Life. When applying these concepts of impression and emotion onto film spectatorship and modern life, the frame is revealed as a key figure in both material landscapes and their immaterial abstraction. This paper considers the idea of the frame that encloses the landscape as introduced by Anne Friedberg in The Virtual Window. The importance of the frame is compounded by the intrusion of mobile technology into everyday life. I draw support for this idea from both Deleuze’s work on the power of repetition, and by engaging the limitations and quirks of human neuroanatomy and the impact of such elements on the lived experience.