San Andreas and the Spiralling of the Analogico–Digital Animated Image
This article considers the contemporary state of mainstream Hollywood cinema as a profoundly animation-driven form of spectacular entertainment characteristic of global digital media in the era of what Bernard Stiegler calls hypercapitalism. With reference to the work of Esther Leslie, Dick Tomasovic and Stiegler, the author develops a critical account of what Leslie calls the ‘petrified unrest’ evident in the deployment of animation techniques and technologies in contemporary mainstream film and media through analysis of the recent Hollywood blockbuster, San Andreas (dir. Brad Peyton, 2015). This film’s big budget, spectacle-driven narrative and extensive deployment of the latest digital ‘motion design’ tools qualifies it as an exemplary instance of the paradoxical form of contemporary mainstream digital cinema, one which is both innovative and utterly conventional at the same time in Leslie’s account. The author elaborates what Stiegler describes as the spiralling instability of the current, hypercapitalist dynamic in which this paradoxical but ultimately unsustainable ‘petrified unrest’ manifests as a disorienting experience of technological and cultural transformation. For it is only in coming to terms with the profound connections between technological and cultural becoming that the potential can be found to move on from this disorienting condition of digital transformation under the prevailing hypercapitalist mode animating what Leslie terms our ‘dreamt reality’.