Close Reading the DVD — From the 'Male Gaze' to Peer to Peer File-sharing: An Examination of Gender, Consumption and Power in Film and New Media

Chris Lane
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Films from throughout the 20th century are increasingly being made available on the DVD-Video format. The emergence of a rich and widely available catalogue of digital material from film history appears to represent a significant opportunity for scholarship and for new ways of looking at and explaining film. Within film studies, 'close reading' is understood as a research method used to produce detailed evidence for the theorisation of cinema that involves the detailed examination of the film itself. This paper discusses a project that has involved the development of software to allow scholars and students to embed clips from DVD-Videos in shared hypertexts — without circumventing Digital Rights Management (DRM) measures. The result is a system that maximises the potential for making and sharing 'close readings' of film on DVD.

As part of the discussion of the project a range of contexts and implications are considered. Taking Alfred Hitchcock's film Vertigo as a starting point, questions of gender, representation, consumption and power — themes that have long been central to film scholarship — are re-examined in the context of contemporary patterns of consumption. These include the shift in the site of consumption from public to private space. The emergence of DVD ripping and peer to peer file sharing as well as experimental artistic practices involving the remediation of film are also considered. As part of this examination the continuities and discontinuities between film and interactive media such as computer games are explored — with a particular focus on our understanding of interactivity.

The paper concludes by arguing that theories of interactivity in digital media need to be revised. The paper also identifies the barriers presented by DRM to study of the media and makes suggestions about future directions for both the producers of media content and legislators.

Keywords: Film, Vertigo, New Media, Interactivity, DVD, File Sharing
Stream: Technology in Education, Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Close Reading the DVD — From the 'Male Gaze' to Peer to Peer File-sharing

Chris Lane

Principal Lecturer, Department of Applied Social Sciences, London Metropolitan University

I am 0.5 Senior Lecturer in Digital Media and Communications and 0.5 Principal Lecturer Information Strategy for the Department of Applied Social Sciences. I have a BA(Hons) in Fine Art from the Slade School at University College London and am currently pathway leader for the BA in Digital Media at London Metropolitan University's North Campus. I have spent my career involved in community education and digital media production and have worked on media campaigns for a range of political and single issue organisations. My teaching specialisms include new media scripting and cyberculture and since 2000 I have delivered short course programmes aimed at digital media design agencies. I have also recently completed a project funded by the European Social Fund - 'Workonline' which researched the potential of teleworking to combat barriers to employment in the New Media industries. I have published work on web design and digital video and my current research interests include: The relationship between digital media, intellectual property and media education New Media language

Ref: T05P0183