“Gas Her”: Deviant Paradigms of Identification in Interactive Spectatorship
Abstract: The notion of identification in visual media that require user participation is problematic. When images become clickable and navigable, then the viewer is no longer a viewer but a participant in the unfolding of the narrative. Theories of visual representation and cinematic spectatorship cannot fully account for modes of interactive spectatorship because the more the viewer is kinesthetically implicated into the formation and progression of moving images, the more the interactive action moves towards the literal realm. In this article, I explore emerging forms of interactive spectatorship through Stanton Audemars’s controversial Stockholm: An Exploration of True Love (2008), and connect those to a broader critical history of the sociological aspects of cinema. Stockholm: An Exploration of True Love challenges the boundaries of a voyeuristic subjectivity that is free of the tension associated with acting out desires elicited by the images on the screen, by inviting the viewer to become complicit in the virtual performance of sadomasochistic acts. An exploration of the processes of conditioning and reorienting spectatorship in interactive films can offer profound insights into the pedagogical potential of interactivity, especially through examples that push the boundaries of both interactivity and cinematic representation.