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5 - Witnessing Race in the New Digital Cinema

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2019

Nicholas Cook
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Monique M. Ingalls
Affiliation:
Baylor University, Texas
David Trippett
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

One of the most important recent developments in practices of recording and listening to digital audio has been the documentation of police violence against marginalised communities, especially African Americans. Prior to the digital, audio-visual technologies served to document similar forms of racist violence as in the killing of Emmett Till (photography) or the beating of Rodney King (home video). But the increasing ubiquity of handheld recording devices has intensified and expanded those dynamics of documentary, creating new modes of witnessing race, bodies and power. In turn, these new forms of witnessing, which have played a central role in the Black Lives Matter movement, call for equally new forms of reception – ways of listening, viewing, sharing, and, in turn, recording, that amplify and disseminate that multimedia witnessing. Key examples of such witnessing, including Beyoncé’s Lemonade and recordings of police killing Philando Castile, offer sober reminders of the stakes of digital cinema.

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Chapter
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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References

Alexander, Elizabeth. 1994. ‘Can you be BLACK and look at this? Reading the Rodney King video(s)’. Public Culture 7 (1): 7794.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Beyoncé [Knowles]. 2016. Lemonade. Kahlil Joseph and Beyoncé Knowles Carter, directors. Columbia Records. Premiered 23 April, Home Box Office (HBO). Visual album.
Chang, Jeff. 2016. ‘Making Lemonade’. In We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation, 159–68. New York: Picador.Google Scholar
Krämer, Sybille and Weigel, Sigrid, eds. 2017. Testimony/Bearing Witness: Epistemology, Ethics, History and Culture. London: Rowman & Littlefield International.Google Scholar
Lamar, Kendrick. 2015. ‘Alright’. Directed by Colin Tilley. Aftermath/Interstellar. Music video.
Taibbi, Matt. 2017. I Can’t Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street. New York: Spiegel & Grau.Google Scholar

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