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David Lynch (Contemporary Film Directors)by Justus Nieland
Synopses & Reviews
A key figure in the ongoing legacy of modern cinema, David Lynch designs environments for spectators, transporting them to inner worlds built by mood, texture, and uneasy artifice. We enter these famously cinematic interiors to be wrapped in plastic, the fundamental substance of Lynch’s work. This volume revels in the weird dynamism of Lynch’s plastic worlds. Exploring the range of modern design idioms that inform Lynch’s films and signature mise-en-scène, Justus Nieland argues that plastic is at once a key architectural and interior design dynamic in Lynch’s films, an uncertain way of feeling essential to Lynch’s art, and the prime matter of Lynch’s strange picture of the human organism.
Nieland’s study offers striking new readings of Lynch’s major works (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Mulholland Dr., Inland Empire) and his early experimental films, placing Lynch’s experimentalism within the aesthetic traditions of modernism and the avant-garde; the genres of melodrama, film noir, and art cinema; architecture and design history; and contemporary debates about cinematic ontology in the wake of the digital. This inventive study argues that Lynch’s plastic concept of life--supplemented by technology, media, and sensuous networks of an electric world--is more alive today than ever.
Discussing the major films of this iconic director, Justus Nieland explores the range of modern design idioms that inform David Lynch's famously cinematic interiors, his work's acute attention to the shaping of affect in particular media environments, and its insistence on the strangeness of biology lived through media.
Nieland resituates Lynch's experimentalism in three ways: first, by taking seriously Lynch's status as a surrealist, and by extension, exploring the status of surrealism in contemporary media culture; second, by placing Lynch's cultural production in a broader tradition of modern Romanticism; and third, by offering a sustained treatment of Lynch's aesthetics in the context of a specifically modernist and avant-garde tradition. By examining such major works as Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive, and Inland Empire, Nieland provocatively argues that the romantic transcendental impulse in Lynch is an historical function of modernity, which, in its efforts to erect a divide between nature and culture, produces a longing for a host of transcendental "outsides" and yields all the monstrous hybrids of nature and culture that populate the Lynchian universe.
About the Author
Justus Nieland is an associate professor of English at Michigan State University, the author of Feeling Modern: The Eccentricities of Public Life, and the coauthor of Film Noir: Hard-Boiled Modernity and the Cultures of Globalization.
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