Describe Tobin Siebers’ concept of disability aesthetics. In what way is modernity, or art’s modernist period, preoccupied with disabled subjects? How does this concept demonstrate the essential connection between aesthetic form and the human body?
In addition, describe what Lennard Davis means by understanding disability as a modality, or a way of being in the world. What, exactly, is a “disabled moment” as a modality? How is ability, as opposed to disability, temporary? Why is that important for Davis? How can all of this help us change the binary of ability/disability? Think especially about what Davis refers to as the “Medusa-like gaze of the observer.” Explain this in your own words.
Finally, consider how Viktoria Modesta demonstrates Siebers’ disability aesthetics in her music video for “Prototype.” Watch her music video here:
Consider what the narrative of the music video is. How are her aesthetic choices similar to Siebers’ descriptions? How are they different? How does Modesta provide a postmodern update to Siebers’ view? Does Modesta and her video catch the viewer in a “Medusa-like gaze,” as Davis describes it? Do we, the viewer, who is defined by an able-bodied world, get caught in a “disabled moment?” How and why? In true postmodern fashion, what “truths” is Modesta revealing about ideas of disabilities, femininity, technology, power, and individual agency/empowerment? Why is this important? Pay attention to Modesta’s performance, her music, and the video itself.
eunet also uses close-ups to mark the end of sequences: “Looping crane shots, rapid zooms, and dizzying montage passages give way to several seconds of Tautou, absolutely still, staring directly into the camera, an object of our lingering gaze.”As with every other aspect of the film, Tautou’s face does not escape Jeunet’s aesthetic edits, serving the superficial narrative as much as-if not more than-the fantastical Paris. As a shot, close-ups, in the terms of Eisenstein, are both individuals and collectives. In presenting Amelie through close-ups, she is presented as an icon, both an “imagined friend and an inaccessible ideal”. The combination of proximity and distance that enables the success of a media icon is an ideal employed by Jeunet. Like a media icon, Amélie provides the audience with traces of reality: opportunities for autonomy, references to past-cinema, while simultaneously isolating the world of the movie through the heavily stylised aesthetics and edited visuals. The close-up presents a dualistic paradox for the viewer. There is an intimacy in the proximity of the shot which, as severed from the ‘bigger picture’, necessitates the abstraction of information; the close-up, in its narrow perspective, refers viewers beyond the immediate. The multitude of close-ups of Tautou’s face, presents Tautou iconically, as they create a pause in the film, providing the audience with multiple instances to reflect on the image in and of itself. The power of the close-up comes from the referential value attributed to it. The close-ups of Tautou therefore give the audience an opportunity for their own autonomous imaginative response to the film by pausing the action visually and temporally. As such, the close-up is a strategy that exemplifies greater themes of the film: the spectator and the significance of the image. In presenting Tautou’s face so iconicly throughout the movie, Jeunet is provoking the relationship between film and spectatorship and subverts Hollywood’s mindlessness through creating providing a platform in which the act of autonomous thought is curated.>