The Zoom in Popular Cinema: A Question of Performance
ABSTRACT This brief essay on the zoom shot is something of a companion essay to his more famous “Detouring through Korean cinema,” published in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies (Vol 3, no.2: 167-186) where he explored the consequences of the freeze-frame. The zoom is viewed as a rhetorical device, a signifier of narratorial performance, and as such evokes a long-discussed question of literary theory, namely the “marks of enunciation” associated with narratorial performance. As an emphatic, gestural marker of such a performance, the zoom breaks the illusion of the impersonal, invisible narrator required for the suspension of disbelief, and is therefore explored here as marking a shift from an auditive-professional storytelling pre-modern culture to the practice of an industrialised form of narrator performance. It is therefore a residual signifier of pre-modern forms of storytelling, but one found as much within Europe as in other supposedly “underdeveloped” economies.
Keywords: Cinematic apparatus, zoom shot, pre-modern/modern, narrative techniques