chapter  5
Image and Subjectivity
Pages 34

When the “death of cinema” became a buzzword in the wake of the “digital dark age”—to recall Paolo Cherchi Usai’s 2001 book title-what was believed to be dead was the material connection between object and image, the image as index like a fi ngerprint. 1 It has been a longtime truism that photographic indexicality is the ontological essence of the cinematic image, its medium specifi city, since Bazin’s famous declaration we examined: photography had achieved the utmost realism through the mechanical reproduction of the object on fi lm and thereby freed Western painting from the old obsession with imitation (Bazin 2009, 5-7). The point is not this new medium’s apparently perfected iconic capacity, but its indexical process of inscribing light from the object onto the chemical celluloid. Even without referring to Peirce or the term index at all, Bazin then became the representative of Peircean indexicality, especially in the Anglophone fi lm academia. 2 The so-called Bazinian realism has been considered to revolve around fi lm’s documentary value of being indexical witness to real events rather than their iconic representation. Furthermore, indexicality may concern the cinematic experience of seeing celluloid on a big screen to be overwhelmed by authentic and even auratic reality projected in full scale. It is no wonder that traditional cinephiles and cineastes often insist on preserving this ‘true’ experience of cinema against the invasion of digitized imagery through new media platforms in varied, mostly miniaturized sizes.