Kim Ki-duk and the Cinema of Sensations

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2008-12-11

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Despite the apparent usefulness for film analysis, the notion of "sensation" disappears in Deleuze's two Cinema books (Cinema 1: The Movement-Image [1983] and Cinema 2: The Time-Image [1985]) published right after Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation (1981), which develops the idea of sensation. By tracing the conceptual origin of sensation from "event," "sense," and "affect," this dissertation answers the mystery of the disappearance of sensation in the Cinema books and clarifies the possibilities and limitations of using "sensation" in the analysis of film. It puts Deleuze's concepts of affect and sensation side by side with Korean director Kim Ki-duk's films so that they can initiate mutually beneficiary discussions. Among the fourteen films Kim made, Crocodile, The Isle and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring are analyzed in detail. Each of these three films represents each stage of Kim Ki-duk's own transformation as a director, and corresponds to Deleuze's own deployment of the event into affect, sensation, and becomings. In the Cinema books, the concept of "sensation" is retained through the discussion of signs and images, but buried under the notions of the "affection-image" and the "impulse-image" because of the way "sensation" is conceptualized in Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation and because of the worry that "sensation" might be confused with the "sensational." While maintaining the conceptual thrust of event and sense, Deleuze reformulates affect and sensation in relation to movement in the Cinema books. Thus, "affect" appears when the movement decreases to a minimum, whereas sensation appears to mobilize the frozen movement. The understanding of Deleuzian usage of sensation prepares us to move beyond the conventional conceptual tools of narrative, symbolization, representation, and signification towards the flows of materials, forces and the virtual.

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