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Black screens: Beckett and television technologies

Bignell, J. ORCID: (2022) Black screens: Beckett and television technologies. In: Rapcsak, B., Nixon, M. ORCID: and Schweighauser, P. (eds.) Beckett and Media. Manchester University Press, Manchester, pp. 177-194, 248. ISBN 9781526145833

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To link to this item DOI: 10.7765/9781526145840.00018


This chapter analyses the aesthetics of Beckett’s dramas for TV, in relation to theorisations of the significance of texture in television and film, and histories of television production and reception technologies. It compares Walter Asmus’s 1986 television version of Was Wo [What Where] with his 2013 reworking of the same drama for the screen. The earlier version was broadcast in 625 line video, limiting contrasts between light and dark, whereas the 2013 What Where is in HD digital format, enhancing image clarity but stretching the limits of TV technology for the representation of black. These technical and aesthetic comparisons are placed in the context of Beckett’s earlier screen dramas of the 1960s and 1970s, which also exploited and challenged the video and film technologies used to produce them. By focusing on black, the chapter explores the significance of unlit space and texture in Beckett’s screen work. It argues that Beckett’s TV work uses the apparent nullity of black to draw attention to the representational capabilities of the TV screen, and links visual style to the materiality of television technologies.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:100998
Uncontrolled Keywords:Beckett, television, aesthetics, production, screen, analogue, digital, video, Walter Asmus, What Where
Additional Information:Book Beckett and Media published Open Access at
Publisher:Manchester University Press


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