From XPUB & Lens-Based wiki

Thesis Outline

The symbolically charged object is my main focus in this project. On one hand, it can be represented in films, typically like Hitchcockian objects. For instance, there are the "Unica" lock to the basement in Notorious, the lighter in Strangers on a Train, the compass in Lifeboat etc. On the other hand, it can also be shared by larger public, like the Van Gogh's ear, the Einstein's brain. Sometimes it even doesn't take concerte form, like the weapon of mass destruction take effect in the Iraq War, or like the goverment secret in the North by Northwest. To make it clear, in my project, I will mainly take look on the sybolic objects in a concrete shape, so materially it can be viewed but its function is more than what defines it as an object. More efficiently, it is presented in a series of effects and it has real effects.
The thesis will take the form as project report together with my research.

The body of the thesis

  • The symbolic objects as "communication device"

The first part is my research filled with many examples that I collected in cinema and literature, and those we may see in daily life. Basicly I take the role as a collector to ground my research and explain my thought that the symbolically charged objects are communication device, which are not defined by its function, but the non-function makes its as an placeholder and makes it circulates as an communicaiton device.
Hitchcock's film and film noir(maybe) will be the main subjects in the cinema parts. Film Noir, is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas. For literature peieces, I would like to focus on Edgar Allan Poe's works which have been heavily researched before by many theorists. As for the rest, I will also take the "weeper"(women hired to cry instead of us. Through the medium of the other, we accomplish our duty of mourning), and "laughter in tv"(the other - embodied in the TV-set - is relieving us even of our duty to laugh) in to account. It is for now, still a bit arbitary, and I am in the process to make the selection in order to inform me with developing my own works.

  • My working process on the project

The second part is the description of my work(s), and how it takes the shape as it is then. This part I will focus on what, how and why I produce concrete objects and the sequencing images (assemblage?).
What I really want to develop here is sort of updating on the old examples, in which I try to make my answer to what is the contemporary symbolically charged obejcts. The working result could be based on hypothesis.


The conclusion part as it is said should be an accumulation of my previous points made in the body of the thesis. So it will be what I think is the communication features embeded in the symbolic objects, and they are the media containing messages.

Bibliography& Other reference

  • The Sublime Object of Ideology
Symbolic status: an object is embedded in a contingent network of external relations. The determination of this network of external relations not as a simple empirical composite but as a symbolic network, the network of an intersubjective symbolic structure??
Is this game forbidden? Hardly. The disappearance of MacGuffins from the world would bring its movement to a standstill. The means justify the end; the secrets revealed along the way justify the unrevealed remainder??
  • Hitchcock&Truffaut
  • Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art
  • Everything you always wanted to know about Lancan p.211; Slavoj Zizek
  • Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard
The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth—it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.
  • Being—A MacGuffin: How to Preserve the Desire to Think
  • On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense by Friedrich Nietzsche
According to Paul F. Glenn, Nietzsche is arguing that "concepts are metaphors which do not correspond to reality." Although all concepts are human inventions (created by common agreement to facilitate ease of communication), human beings forget this fact after inventing them, and come to believe that they are "true" and do correspond to reality. Thus Nietzsche argues that "truth" is actually: A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms—in short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins. [steve try to bring these elements together to develop an argument ie: "metal, no longer as coins... it follows that a given object is situated within an intersubjective symbolic network, for Tom McCarthy "the real remains hidden by being disguised as the copy of what it actually is". This accounts for the writers fascination with which the MacGuffin,...].
  • Being—A MacGuffin: How to Preserve the Desire to Think
  • "Instrumental relation to the world of objects"
  • Tom McCarthy on realism and the real
...the real remains hidden by being disguised as the copy of what it actually is.
  • The cybernetic unconscious: rethinking Lancan, Poe, and French Theory
With cybernetics, the symbol is embodied in an appratus that supposedly ties the real to a syntax for Lacan; however, this syntax has nothing to do with ordinary grammar but rather is the combinatory logic of 0 and 1.

Some other ref:
  • Crash by JG Ballard.
"I feel that the balance between fiction and reality has changed significantly in the past decades. Increasingly their roles are reversed. We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind - mass-merchandizing, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the pre-empting of any original response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer's task is to invent the reality."
  • "weepers": women hired to cry instead of us. Through the medium of the other, we accomplish our duty of mourning
  • "laughter in tv": the other - embodied in the TV-set - is relieving us even of our duty to laugh.
  • "deathwatch beetles" in The Tell-tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe