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Monstrous technologies and the human condition questions in movies

Grant number: 18/02038-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2018
Effective date (End): May 31, 2019
Field of knowledge:Interdisciplinary Subjects
Principal Investigator:Maria Lucia Santaella Braga
Grantee:Adriano Messias de Oliveira
Supervisor: Teresa Velázquez García-Talavera
Host Institution: Faculdade de Ciências Exatas e Tecnologia. Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Spain  
Associated to the scholarship:15/13071-9 - The fantasphere of the sentient world, BP.PD


This project, to be developed in the Laboratori de Prospectiva i Recerca en Comunicació, Cultura i Cooperació - Laprec -, in the Department of Journalism and Communication Sciences of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), is turned to a research in communication and semiotics in line with my perspective of work since my PhD studies, especially with regard to the paths that the monstrous forms have assumed in the cinema. They reveal a complex panorama of cultural symptoms able to mirror the challenges around the human. Part of my investigative results have been demonstrated in publications since 2010, especially the book Todos os monstros da Terra: bestiários do cinema e da literatura (Educ/ Fapesp, 510 p.), awarded with an important communication prize in 2017. In previous works, I discussed films by Spanish and Latin American directors, such as The Devil's backbone (2001), 28 weeks later (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, 2007), I'll see you in my dreams (Miguel Ángel Vivas and Filipe Melo, 2003) and The Last Days (David Pastor and Àlex Pastor, 2013). From another bias, I investigated the rich field of body monstrification, which can be perceived in fantastic beings of the Iberian Peninsula. By the semiotics, on the one hand, and by the endorsement of psychoanalytic theory, on the other, I understand the monsters as profitable elements that allow us to study what can a body, and mainly what can a biocyborg body become by adjunging to the organic materiality elements of silicon in a metaphor of a new human, thus evidencing the ontological cross in which we are inserted. In this panorama, some movies provide reflective positions, consequence not only of the work of the unconscious, but of a vast repetitive cultural symptomatology. In the last decade and a half, materials that serve as a profitable corpus of research have been detected: they encompass delicate science fiction and explicit horror movies, turning to a vocation towards the mainstream or to a certain experimentalism of narrative formats. As representative of this panorama, I chose works by Guillermo Del Toro, since they gain wide repercussion by presenting the monstrous as a paradigmatic element. The Faun's Labyrinth (2006), The Crimson Peak (2015) and above all The shape of water (2017) are very notorious in this aspect. In these movies, Del Toro dialogues with both formal quality and with representations that can be apprehended as symptoms of culture. The main objective is to investigate to what extent his films propose questions that permeate challenges for the human; as secondary objectives, there is the location of the technology and machine theme in the body, with repercussions to new ontophilosophical work fronts, as well as the detection of elements of a more ancient culture, mainly Iberian, present in cinematographic representations. The hypothesis is that some audiovisual productions anticipate ontophilosophical issues that permeate the human in this century, notably marked by a technology adjunct to the body and by the impact of new economies of jouissance in the subject. Some questions are: what is the human in our days and what is its possible becoming? How the human, the nonhuman animal and the machines (especially the ones moved by the artificial intelligence) are interwoven in an increasingly hybrid configuration. The methodology involves bibliographic and audiovisual research. For the state of the art, I mobilize, in communication and cinema, authors such as Lucia Santaella, Fernando Broncano, Roger Dadoun, Jean-Claude Beaune, Noël Carroll, Cassou-Noguès and Jean-Louis Leutrat; and in the psychoanalytic front I rely on the fundamental works of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan, as well as on the collateral contributions of Slavoj Zizek and Miquel Bassols.

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