Cinema and Media Studies Prof on Movies and the Culture of Digital Spying

February 27, 2014

Among the annual Oscar nominees, themes tend to repeat themselves, and the movie Her is no exception, according to an article written by Evan Fleischer on Esquire’s culture blog. The article, “Why the Truman Show was Remarkably Prescient,” explores the parallels between Theodore Twombly from Her and Truman Burbank, and the relationships they developed with their technological surroundings. The writer turned to CAMS Professor Nicholas Knouf to explain the comparison.

“Seen in light of the late 1990's, The Truman Show can be potentially understood as embodying a worry about the boundaries of the burgeoning reality television genre, or concerns over the ultimate limits of corporate power,” said Knouf. Seen today, however, the film’s significance changes. Knouf explained, “we can understand it as a commentary on pervasive surveillance in light of the NSA revelations, and specifically the ways in which that surveillance can never be perfect or complete. The same thing can be said for Her. While on the one hand we can see it as asking us to question the limits of human-machine relationships, I believe it can potentially open up a dialogue about the existing ways in which we intimately exist with non-animate objects.”

Nicholas Knouf joined Wellesley College as Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies in fall of 2013.  His current research explores noise, interferences, and information in media of the 20th and 21st centuries, while his work as a media artist reconfigures contemporary technologies to enable alternative forms of subjectivity through the construction of robotic creatures, mobile phone programs, and web-based artworks.  Last fall he taught an introductory Cinema and Media studies course (CAMS 101), as well as a course titled “Theories of Media from Photography to the Internet” (CAMS 218).  This spring he is teaching CAMS 270, “The Light and Dark of the Internet”, which explores histories and theories of the Internet.

- Reporting by Susan Puente '14