The Matrix of Our Visual Culture

In: Film and Music

Submitted By Codyzor
Words 1555
Pages 7
As Patricia Pisters (2003) asserts in her study of Deleuze and film theory The Matrix of Visual Culture, the Wachowski brothers’ film can be read from number of different theoretical perspectives. It invites readings via Lacanian psychoanalysis, Platonic notions of the cave and the disparity between the two strata of perception and also as a “New Age” (Pisters, 2003: 11) quasi-religious evocation of the second coming. However, here I would like to place the film’s visual sense and diegesis into a context of postmodern philosophy; drawing inferences and theoretical connections between the film and the work of Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin and the neo-Marxists of the Frankfurt School, most notably Adorno and Horkheimer in Dialectic of Enlightenment (1979).
The importance of postmodern philosophy and cyber culture to the visual sense of The Matrix is declared from its very opening titles. Random strings of green neon data are scrolled against a black background imbuing the viewer with a sense of the virtual and the cybernetic and this is concretised and given definite focus later on as Neo (Keanu Reeves) hides the two thousand dollars given to him by Anthony in a copy of Simulacra and Simulation by Baudrillard. This reference however is more than a mere visual joke it is a signifier for a number of the film’s sub-textual tropes and motifs.
For Baudrillard, the notion of the simulacra was central to an understanding of the modern capitalist society. In his essay “The Precession of the Simulacra” (2004) he offers up four vital concepts, all of which appear, in one form or another in The Matrix: the simulation, the simulacra, the Real and the hyper-real. The simulation covers the gaps in the Real, the actual; as Baudrillard says “To simulate is to feign to have what one doesn’t have” (Baudrillard, 2004: 3). The simulation takes on the image of the Real in order to…...

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