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Worlds on Screen

Worlds on Screen

The Ontology of Television Series and/as the Ontology of Film

(p.13) 1 Worlds on Screen
New Television
Martin Shuster
University of Chicago Press

This chapter presents an account of the ontology of new television, an account of how to understand what the items on the screen fundamentally are. This is accomplished by linking new television series to debates in aesthetics and modernism about ontology, especially within painting, photography, and film. Throughout, the work of philosophers Stanley Cavell and Martin Heidegger and the art historian and critic Michael Fried is employed in order to argue that what we see on the television screen is an entire world. ‘World’ here consists of a technical term that originates in phenomenology and denotes an entire horizon of meaning and significance, one that is entirely and forever distinct from our world. In this way, developed in this chapter is the notion—taken from Cavell--of an automatism: of a way in which a medium does something, of how it communicates something to those experiencing the work of art. The chapter concludes with an initial presentation of how ‘new television’ ought to be understood and with close reading of the Fox show, Fringe, showing how the show itself is fundamentally engaged with this understanding of ontology.

Keywords:   world, ontology, Stanley Cavell, modernism, automatism, media specificity, Fringe, aesthetics, philosophy of art, film

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