Master of Arts (M.A.)
Degree Granting Department
Humanities and Cultural Studies
Scott Ferguson, Ph.D.
Maria Cizmic, Ph.D.
Andrew Berish, Ph.D.
distance, found footage, phenomenology, proximity, Steadicam
This thesis uncovers a remote entanglement of phenomenological experience and abstract aesthetics in postmodern horror, a space that historically celebrates the former and critically undervalues the latter. Framed as a case study, I mobilize close readings of Alex Garland’s science fiction horror film, Annihilation (2018), to complicate the immersion/abstraction binary that implicitly structures much of contemporary horror scholarship. By recovering horror’s distanced and decentered forms and aesthetics I point to the interdependent faculty of a composite aesthetic collaboration.
These collaborations, which I refer to as aesthetic exchanges, place pressure on the localized emphasis of horror’s situated assaultive and reactive positions. I place Annihilation’s tactile, embodied handheld found footage and the abstract, “hovering” nature of the Steadicam aesthetic into a dialogue that sutures together immersion and abstraction, as well as distance and proximity. Additionally, I mobilize the film’s audiovisual arrangement to demonstrate how the exchange of on/offscreen sound manifests different modalities of vision and distant presence. By recovering theses points of spatiotemporal difference, I establish a productive aesthetic exchange that renegotiates the viewing positions of postmodern horror into infinite collaborations.
Scholar Commons Citation
Steinbach, Ashley Morgan, "Horror’s Aesthetic Exchange: Immersion, Abstraction and Annihilation" (2020). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.