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date: 25 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. Sustained parallel montage in the digital thriller Source Code (2011) serves the sci-fi plot of a computer-generated parallel universe into which a mutilated, nearly brain-dead American pilot finally escapes after being wired—by “synaptic mapping”—into the time-loop surveillance of a homeland terrorist. While still under life-support in the musically unaccompanied space of mission control, his debriefings transpire only as an electronic data stream, even his seeming speech coming across merely as closed-captioned signals. But his computer-triggered release into full-scale virtual reality at the end is marked by two levels of nondiegetic sound infiltrating the zone of his former electronic manipulation: not just the orchestral uplift previously reserved for his time-travel episodes but the voiceover of his own cell phone e-text as sign of a reembodied alternate reality. The essay explores the audiovisual ironies of “new media” in this out-of-body narrative mode.

Keywords: sci-fi, time travel, surveillance, war on terror, virtual reality, text-messaging, nondiegetic score, voiceover, cell phone

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