The Method Meets Animation: on performative affect and digital bodies in Aronofsky’s ‘performance diptych

David H. Fleming's picture

Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler (2008) and Black Swan (2010) each mount a sustained investigation into issues surrounding performance in and beyond cinema, across a wide range of different registers. The Wrestler reifies the backwards-looking ‘realist’ film that focuses on the past and memory, whereas Black Swan surfaces as a digitally augmented ‘expressionistic’ film concerned with breaking down barriers and reaching towards new heights of becoming. As these performance themes become reflected in the form and content of the ‘companion’ films, this article poses some timely questions on the changing nature of performance in relation to cinema’s digital event. The investigation harnesses three overlapping categories to explore issues of performance within and across the diptych, beginning with a notion of the double that is key to both narratives and fictional characters. Thereafter the concept of doubling is expanded to explore the relation between actor bodies (typage), star images and a ‘block of becoming’ that links together humanist method techniques and digital technicity through a focus on issues of performative affect. Moving beyond extensive considerations of acting, the affective tonality of performance is approached through an Artaudian lens and evaluated in terms of an expression-event for viewers.

Author Name: 
David H. Fleming
Journal: 
International Journal of Performing Arts and Digital Media
Citation: 
David H. Fleming (2013) ‘The Method Meets Animation: on performative affect and digital bodies in Aronofsky’s ‘performance diptych’ International Journal of Performing Arts and Digital Media 9:2, pp. 275-293.