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Journal Article

Some Brief Reflections on Technology, Cinema, and the Postcolonial Uncanny

Sangita Gopal
Pacific Coast Philology
Vol. 50, No. 2, Special Issue: Familiar Spirits (December 2015), pp. 198-208
DOI: 10.5325/pacicoasphil.50.2.0198
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Page Count: 11
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Some Brief Reflections on Technology, Cinema, and the Postcolonial Uncanny
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This article is interested in understanding how an aesthetics shaped by postcoloniality both draws on and reveals anew the uncanny relation of sound to the image in cinema. If postcoloniality is structured by a desire for synchronicity, and technology is viewed as a means to this end, synchronization has typically been the ideal of film sound. Thus an examination of some postcolonial uses of film sound affords us the uncanny pleasures of exploring the reality of one phenomenon through the technology of another. Two examples are taken from Indian cinema—first, how Satyajit Ray's internationally renowned Pather Panchali (1955) conceives of technology as development by embracing a mode of sonic realism unprecedented in Indian cinema. In so doing, he not only proposes an alternative to the uncanny assembling of technology and representation that characterizes Indian cinema but also suggests that the aesthetic of realism can mitigate anxieties of postcolonial doubling. The second instance is taken from Ashim Ahluwalia's self-described science-fiction documentary John and Jane (2005), an exploration of Indian call centers. Once again, the relation of sound and image in this film allows us to intuit how the postcolonial uncanny mutates in the era of global electronic technology.

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