Filling the Sight by Force: 'Smoke', photography and the rhetoric of immobilization

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Opening with an analysis of a scene from Wayne Wang's 1995 film Smoke,the article identifies the mobility of the viewer as a key anxiety withinphotography theory, and outlines a rhetoric of immobilization that privilegesvisual arrest and attention as essential both to photographic meaningand to an overall discourse of critical engagement. Tracing this rhetoric andits implications through some of the writings of Benjamin and Barthes, thearticle proposes an alternative account of photographic representation inthe domestic sphere and the mass media - based on notions of indexicality,mechanical automatism and visual indifference.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)323-340
Number of pages18
JournalTextual Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998


  • Barthes
  • Benjamin
  • Critical attention
  • Indexicality
  • Indifference
  • Photography
  • Visuality


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