There was a time in screen culture when the facial close-up was a spectacular and mysterious image… The constant bombardment of the super-enlarged, computer-enhanced faces of advertising, the endless 'talking heads' of television and the ever-changing array of film stars' faces have reduced the face to a banal image, while the dream of early film theorists that the 'giant severed heads' of the screen could reveal 'the soul of man' to the masses is long since dead. And yet the (...) end of this dream opens up the possibility for a different view of the face on the screen. The aim of the book is to seize this opportunity to rethink the facial close-up in terms other than subjectivity and identity by shifting the focus to questions of death and recognition. In doing so, the book proposes a dialectical reversal or about-face. It suggests that we focus our attention on the places in contemporary media where the face becomes unrecognisable, for it is here that the facial close-up expresses the powers of death. Using Walter Benjamin's theory of the dialectical image as a critical tool, the book provides detailed studies of a wide range of media spectacles of faces becoming unrecognisable. It shows how the mode of recognition enabled by these faces is a shock experience that can open our eyes to the underside of the mask of self - the unrecognisable mortal face of self we spend our lives trying not to see. Turning on itself, so to speak, the face exposes the fragile relationship between social recognition and facial recognizability in the images-cultures of contemporary media. (shrink)
Designed for classroom use, this authoritative anthology presents key selections from the best contemporary work in philosophy of film. The featured essays have been specially chosen for their clarity, philosophical depth, and consonance with the current move towards cognitive film theory Eight sections with introductions cover topics such as the nature of film, film as art, documentary cinema, narration and emotion in film, film criticism, and film's relation to knowledge and morality Issues addressed include the objectivity of documentary films, fear (...) of movie monsters, and moral questions surrounding the viewing of pornography Replete with examples and discussion of moving pictures throughout. (shrink)
I shall begin this essay by sketching some Wittgenstein-influenced arguments as to why the causal theory of perception is inadequate. However my main concern is to explore the ramifications for pictorial perception of understanding perception in terms of the causal theory. When 'our ordinary notion of perceiving' is characterized in terms of the existence of a causal connection between an object perceived and our sensory experience of that object the case of pictorial perception generates a paradox.
Norbert Elias’s project in The process of civilization involved reconstructing invisible movement—both the slow tempoof long-term historical change and the modification of psychic structures and embodied dispositions. To do this, he resorted to uncommon devices: treating historical texts as constituting a series amenable to a rudimentary discourse analysis, he constructed an imagined ‘curve of civilization’ serving as an approximation of the hidden process of change. Elias’s curve was not supposed to represent single past states, but movement itself, its direction and (...) pace. This novel concept of historical representation was related to the perception of cinema as a new medium making actual movement visible. But beyond making it possible to imagine how one could telescope long-term historical process, cinema also held the promise of serving as a microscope, making the minute movements of the human body, gestures and manners available for close inspection. While anthropologists were devising ways of using the new medium to document fleeting gestures and bodily postures, it was used by popular audiences as a source for remodelling behaviour and acquiring polite manners and body techniques, as noticed by such acute observers as Marcel Mauss and Joseph Roth. Hence, popular appropriation of the cinema gave rise to a heightened awareness of the historicity of gestures and the changing modalities of their transmission. Cinema was itself part of the accelerated motion of history, of a perceived change of pace in the process of civilization, which in its turn shed light on its historical antecedents and played an essential role in rethinking the notion of civilization and culture.Keywords: Norbert Elias; Marcel Mauss; Joseph Roth; Cinema; Gestures; Body; Discourse; Historiography; Sociology of culture. (shrink)
Emotions play at least three key roles in cinema. First, many motionpictures present highly emotional situations, involving characters who fall in love, who endure unbearable loss, and who become hell-bent on revenge. To make sense of movies, we must identify the emotions that drive their characters. Second, motionpictures seem to arouse emotions. We go to tearjerkers that make us cry, splatter films that make us writhe, and action films that keep us at the edges (...) of our seats. Third, these emotional experiences are, ostensibly, part of cinema’s allure; we value movies that evoke strong feelings. One might summarize these three observations by saying that movie-going involves emotion attribution, arousal, and motivation. Each of these has been a domain of philosophical contestation. How are emotions attributed when experiencing a cinematic fiction? Are genuine emotions really aroused? And do emotional experiences really bring us to the box office? This discussion explores controversies along these three dimensions. (shrink)
This article sets up a neurophenomenological approach to understanding cinema spectatorship in order to investigate how embodied engagement with technologies of sound and motion can foster a sense of experiential realism. It takes as a starting point the idea that the empirical study of emotive, perceptual, motor, and cognitive processes involved in film spectatorship is impoverished without a phenomenological account of the lived experience under investigation. Correspondingly, engaging with neuroscientific studies enriches the scope of phenomenological inquiry and offers new (...) insights into the film experience. Analysis of diverse films including Interstellar, Leviathan, San Andreas and The Thin Red Line reveals how technological innovations dating from Hale’s Tours to contemporary D-BOX and Dolby Atmos systems have enhanced the audience’s sense of immersion and corporeal investment in the film experience. Building on the research of Vivian Sobchack and Vittorio Gallese, I argue that aesthetic techniques including the use of low frequency sound effects and wearable cameras facilitate shared affective engagement and a form of embodied simulation associated with kinaesthetic empathy and augmented narrative involvement. (shrink)
This chapter surveys foundational concepts in the history of phenomenology for the purpose of highlighting their relevance for key contemporary issues in the philosophy of film. A central argument concerns phenomenology’s capacity for unraveling the ontology of film, given phenomenology’s emphasis on accounting for the ontology of phenomena through description based in first-person experience. On this ground, the chapter defends the claim that film’s ontology stems from the projective intentionality of the film viewer, where the communicative nature of embodied vision (...) also figures into play. The principal phenomenological frameworks taken up are those of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, as well as the work of contemporary film scholar Vivian Sobchack. (shrink)
In works of literary fiction, it is a part of the fiction that the words of the text are being recounted by some work-internal 'voice': the literary narrator. One can ask similarly whether the story in movies is told in sights and sounds by a work-internal subjectivity that orchestrates them: a cinematic narrator. George M. Wilson argues that movies do involve a fictional recounting (an audio-visual narration ) in terms of the movie's sound and image track. Viewers are usually prompted (...) to imagine seeing the items and events in the movie's fictional world and to imagine hearing the associated fictional sounds. However, it is much less clear that the cinematic narration must be imagined as the product of some kind of 'narrator' - of a work-internal agent of the narration. Wilson goes on to examine the further question whether viewers imagine seeing the fictional world face-to-face or whether they imagine seeing it through some kind of work-internal mediation . It is a key contention of this book that only the second of these alternatives allows one to give a coherent account of what we do and do not imagine about what we are seeing on the screen. Having provided a partial account of the foundations of film narration, the final chapters explore the ways in which certain complex strategies of cinematic narration are executed in three exemplary films: David Fincher's Fight Club , von Sternberg's The Scarlet Empress , and the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There. (shrink)
Providing an alternative to pyschoanalytically based descriptions, this major study presents a unique, new theoretical account of the way emotions and thought patterns interact in creating aesthetic effects in films. Using diverse examples, Torben Grodal shows how films activate effects in the viewer and how these effects are moulded by genres which determine the way in which characters will react in given situations.
While some film theorists and philosophers have seen motion as a necessary element of cinema, this view is challenged by a body of avant-garde films which offer little or no movement. These experiments—by film-makers such as Andy Warhol, Larry Gottheim, and Michael Snow—challenge essentialist definitions of film, while simultaneously foregrounding the crucial role played by duration in cinema’s ontology.
Hyperlink cinema is an emergent film genre that seeks to push the boundaries of the medium in order to mirror contemporary life in the globalized community. Films in the genre thus create an interacting network across space and time in such a way as to suggest that people’s lives can intersect on scales that would not have been possible without modern technologies of travel and communication. This allows us to test the hypothesis that new kinds of media might permit us (...) to break through the natural cognitive constraints that limit the number and quality of social relationships we can manage in the conventional face-to-face world. We used network analysis to test this hypothesis with data from 12 hyperlink films, using 10 motionpictures from a more conventional film genre as a control. We found few differences between hyperlink cinema films and the control genre, and few differences between hyperlink cinema films and either the real world or classical drama (e.g., Shakespeare’s plays). Conversation group size seems to be especially resilient to alteration. It seems that, despite many efficiency advantages, modern media are unable to circumvent the constraints imposed by our evolved psychology. (shrink)
ABSTRACT:Are face-to-face perception and picture perception different perceptual phenomena? The question is controversial. On the one hand, philosophers have offered several solid arguments showing that, despite some resemblances, they are quite different perceptual phenomena and that pictures are special objects of perception. On the other hand, neuroscientists routinely use pictures in experimental settings as substitutes for normal objects, and this practice is successful in explaining how the human visual system works. But this seems to imply that (...)face-to-face perception and picture perception are very similar, if not actually the same. How can we decide between these two opposite intuitions? Here I offer a regimentation of the notion of picture perception that can reconcile these two apparently conflicting ideas about pictures. It follows that philosophers and neuroscientists can maintain their respective stances without any theoretical conflict. (shrink)
This essay explores the prospects of grounding an account of pictorial experience or ‘seeing-in’ on a theory of presence in ordinary perception. Even though worldly objects can be perceptually recognized in a picture, they do not feel present as when they are perceived face to face. I defend a dual view of perceptual phenomenology according to which the sense of presence is dissociated from the contents of perception. On the one hand, the sense of presence is best conceived (...) as a non-sensory feeling. Ordinary objects are felt but not seen to be present. On the other hand, the contents of perception are determined by the actualization of perceptual-recognitional abilities. Unlike current versions of the feeling-based account of the sense of presence, I claim that these abilities enable us to perceive worldly (partial or overall) appearances. This claim justifies the strongest interpretation of recognition theories which does not fall back on the view that pictorial experience involves a kind of perceptual illusion. (shrink)
This paper outlines a ‘perceptual account’ of depiction. It centrally contrasts with experiential accounts of depiction in that seeing something in a picture is understood as a visual experience of something present in the picture, rather than as a visual experience of something absent. The experience of a picture is in this respect akin to a veridical rather than hallucinatory perceptual experience on a perceptual account. Thus, the central selling-point of a perceptual account is that it allows taking at (...) class='Hi'>face value the intuitive claim that we see things in pictures. Preserving this claim has a potential cost, however: we need to postulate that some kind of thing, T, is present in the realm of the picture, and it is not straightforward to find a plausible type of entity to play this role. The paper examines three alternative choices of T; T may be a material object, a visual appearance or a universal. (shrink)
Everyday life suggests that picture seeing is sometimes infused by an emotional charge. However, nobody has addressed the importance of explaining this emotional charge in picture perception. Even our best model of picture perception, the dorsal/ventral account of picture perception, which integrates the most important empirical results coming from our best model on vision in neuroscience, the two visual systems model, lacks a reference to this emotional charge. The aim of the present paper is to offer an account of picture (...) perception that is able to regain and explain this neglected emotional charge. My claim is that, as for face-to-face perception, during picture perception, we are not only in a visual perceptual state, but also in an emotional state, which is directly connected to our visual perceptual state. I also show that it is possible to offer this integration while remaining in the philosophical/empirical framework of the dorsal/ventral account of picture perception, whose explanatory power is confirmed and improved. (shrink)
Congenitally blind people can make and understand ‘tactile pictures’ – representations form of raised ridges on flat surfaces. If made visible, these representations can serve as pictures for the sighted. Does it follow that we should take at face value the idea that they are pictures made for touch? I explore this question, and the related issue of the aesthetics of ‘tactile pictures’ by considering the role in both depiction and pictorial aesthetics of experience, and (...) by asking how far the experience of those engaging with representations through touch can approximate to that of those engaging with them through sight. (shrink)
Given that numerous critics have complained about Saw’s apparently confused sense of ethics, it is surprising that little attention has been paid to how morality operates in narrative itself. Coming from a Nietzschean perspective - specifically questioning whether the lead torturer Jigsaw is a passive or a radical nihilist - I seek to rectify that oversight. This philosophical reading of the series explores Jigsaw’s moral stance, which is complicated by his hypocrisy: I contend that this underpins critical complaints regarding the (...) films’ "muddled" morality. My narrative analysis reveals that Jigsaw’s values are not as confused as they may first appear to be. Despite explicitly proclaiming that his quest is to save others, his actions reveal another story. Following the loss of his unborn son and his failed suicide attempt, Jigsaw seeks to symbolically eradicate himself: the victims he selects reflect and reify his own obsessive personality traits. In keeping with the franchises’ narrative twists – which are designed to reverse initially "obvious" meanings – I argue that Jigsaw’s proclamations have misdirected critics. His nihilism may be manifested as coerced suffering and articulated as distaste with the world, yet the series’ symbolic target is Jigsaw himself. (shrink)
Introduction : time, film, and the ethical vision of Emmanuel Levinas. American transcendence : Levinas and a short history of an American idea in film -- Frank Capra and James Stewart : time, transcendence, and the other -- The changing face of American redemption : Henry Fonda, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, and Denzel Washington -- Sex, art, and Oedipus : The unbearable lightness of being -- Fellini and La dolce vita : documentary, decadence, and desire -- Antonioni and L'avventura (...) : transcendence, the body, and the feminine. (shrink)
_Minerva’s Night Out_ presents series of essays by noted philosopher and motion picture and media theorist Noël Carroll that explore issues at the intersection of philosophy, motionpictures, and popular culture. Presents a wide-ranging series of essays that reflect on philosophical issues relating to modern film and popular culture Authored by one of the best known philosophers dealing with film and popular culture Written in an accessible manner to appeal to students and scholars Coverage ranges from the (...) philosophy of Halloween to _Vertigo_ and the pathologies of romantic love. (shrink)
It has been argued that picture perception is sometimes, but not always, ‘inflected’. Sometimes the picture’s design ‘inflects’, or is ‘recruited’ into the depicted scene. The aim of this paper is to cash out what is meant by these metaphors. Our perceptual state is different when we see an object fact to face or when we see it in a picture. But there is also a further distinction: our perceptual state is very different if we perceive objects in (...) class='Hi'>pictures in an inflected or uninflected manner. The question is what this difference amounts to. My answer is that it is a difference of attention. In the case of inflected, but not uninflected, picture perception, we are consciously attending to certain properties: to relational property that cannot be fully characterized without reference to both the picture’s design and to the depicted object. I defend this way of interpreting inflected picture perception from some important objections and emphasize the importance of this, inflected, way of perceiving pictures. (shrink)
_Philosophy of Motion Pictures_ is a first-of-its-kind, bottom-up introduction to this bourgeoning field of study. Topics include film as art, medium specificity, defining motionpictures, representation, editing, narrative, emotion and evaluation. Clearly written and supported with a wealth of examples Explores characterizations of key elements of motionpictures –the shot, the sequence, the erotetic narrative, and its modes of affective address.
This article reviews recent developments in experimental facial attractiveness research. It outlines the important social consequences of facial attractiveness in social life and briefly reviews the structural factors associated with attractiveness in both sexes taking a theoretical perspective largely influenced by evolutionary biology. The study discusses individual differences in preferences from this theoretical perspective. Attractiveness is also affected by aspects of the face that are manifestly not static. Facial motion and expression involve changing configurations of the face (...) and the execution of specific, discrete gestures that are likely to contribute to attractiveness and yet are largely neglected in the current literature. It shows how an evolutionary viewpoint is also useful when considering attractiveness judgments when expressive or dynamic cues are present in stimuli. (shrink)
Expecting Saving Mr. Banks to be a jolly jaunt about the creative development of the movie Mary Poppins (1964), I found myself waiting endlessly for the “jolliness” to begin—it never did. In fact, rather than joy, there was an ever-present sensation of tension as I watched the film. Having moved house myself in recent days (during a Queensland heat wave), the scenes of the Goff family leaving their home and trekking across hot, dusty Queensland were very emotional. However, seeing the (...) family patriarch Travers Goff (played by Colin Farrell) swig from an alcohol flask in a desperate manner told me that his was no “routine” family move. And, certainly, arriving at their destination—a dilapidated ranch home—shed even more light on the Goff family’s predicament: alcoholism and the cycle of employment and unemployment. Further, it is the downstream consequences of the family predicament that fuel the identity and behaviour of Mary Poppins—a fictional character created by Travers’ daughter, a. (shrink)
In the 1910s, New York suffragette Electra Sparks wrote a series of essays in theMoving Picture Newsthat advocated for cine-therapy treatments for pregnant women. Film was, in her view, the great democratizer of beautiful images, providing high-cultural access to the city's poor. These positive ‘mental pictures’ were important for her because, she claimed, in order to produce an attractive, healthy child, the mother must be exposed to quality cultural material. Sparks's championing of cinema during its ‘second birth’ was founded (...) upon the premise of New Thought. This metaphysical Christian doctrine existed alongside the self-help and esoteric publishing domains and testified, above all, to the possibility of the ‘mind-cure’ of the body through the positive application of ‘mental pictures’. Physiologically, their method began best in the womb, where the thoughts of the mother were of utmost importance: the eventual difference between birthing an Elephant Man or an Adonis. This positive maternal impression was commonplace in New Thought literature; it was Sparks's innovation to apply it to cinema. Investigating Sparks's film theory, practice and programming reveals her to be a harbinger of the abiding analogy between mind and motion picture that occupies film theorists to this day. (shrink)
After 1905, Einstein's miraculous year, physics would never be the same again. In those twelve months, Einstein shattered many cherished scientific beliefs with five extraordinary papers that would establish him as the world's leading physicist. This book brings those papers together in an accessible format. The best-known papers are the two that founded special relativity: On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies and Does the Inertia of a Body Depend on Its Energy Content? In the former, Einstein showed that absolute time (...) had to be replaced by a new absolute: the speed of light. In the second, he asserted the equivalence of mass and energy, which would lead to the famous formula E = mc 2 . The book also includes On a Heuristic Point of View Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light , in which Einstein challenged the wave theory of light, suggesting that light could also be regarded as a collection of particles. This helped to open the door to a whole new world--that of quantum physics. For ideas in this paper, he won the Nobel Prize in 1921. The fourth paper also led to a Nobel Prize, although for another scientist, Jean Perrin. On the Movement of Small Particles Suspended in Stationary Liquids Required by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat concerns the Brownian motion of such particles. With profound insight, Einstein blended ideas from kinetic theory and classical hydrodynamics to derive an equation for the mean free path of such particles as a function of the time, which Perrin confirmed experimentally. The fifth paper, A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions , was Einstein's doctoral dissertation, and remains among his most cited articles. It shows how to calculate Avogadro's number and the size of molecules. These papers, presented in a modern English translation, are essential reading for any physicist, mathematician, or astrophysicist. Far more than just a collection of scientific articles, this book presents work that is among the high points of human achievement and marks a watershed in the history of science. Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the miraculous year, this new paperback edition includes an introduction by John Stachel, which focuses on the personal aspects of Einstein's youth that facilitated and led up to the miraculous year. (shrink)
The Philosopher at the End of the Universe demonstrates how anyone can grasp the basic concepts of philosophy while still holding a bucket of popcorn. Mark Rowlands makes philosophy utterly relevant to our everyday lives and reveals its most potent messages using nothing more than a little humor and the plotlines of some of the most spectacular, expensive, high-octane films on the planet. Learn about: The Nature of Reality from The Matrix, Good and Evil from Star Wars, Morality from Aliens, (...) Personal Identity from Total Recall, The Mind-Body dilemma from Terminator, Free Will from Minority Report, Death and the Meaning of Life from Blade Runner, and much more. A search for knowledge about ourselves and the world around us with a star-studded cast that includes: Tom Cruise, Plato, Harrison Ford, Immanuel Kant, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigourney Weaver, René Descartes, and Keanu Reeves. Rowlands anchors his discussions in easily understood everyday terms and relates them in a manner easy to identify with. Interspersed with a ready joke or two, he wonderfully explains why those SciFi movies we love so much are much deeper than they appear to be on the surface. Mark Rowlands's entertaining and stimulating guide is perfect for anyone searching for knowledge of the world around us. If Keanu can understand Descartes surely everyone can. (shrink)
The System of Existential Graphs may be characterized with great truth as presenting before our eyes a moving picture of thought. Provided this characterization be taken not as a flatly literal statement, but as a simile, it will, I venture to predict, surprise you to find what a strain of detailed comparison it will bear without snapping.Peirce once called his graphical system of logic—the Existential Graphs or EGs—the moving pictures of thought. In this essay, I argue that Peirce meant (...) that using his graphs to study the movement of thought is akin to Eadweard Muybridge’s use of moving pictures to study animal motion, and I show that this analogy is highly apt for several reasons. The analogy is apt because:... (shrink)
Hegel, the western and classical modernity. The myth and the frontier ; The hero in the epochs of mythical and the bourgeois ; The end of the individual ; The end of the subject -- Romanticism, crime and agonal modernity. The return of tragedy in modernity ; Heroes of coolness and the ironist -- Nietzsche, science fiction and hybrid modernity. Heroic individualismus and metaphysics ; Superhumans, supermen, cyborgs ; Heroes of the future.
This is a book about the nature of film: about the nature of moving images, about the viewer's relation to film, and about the kinds of narrative that film is capable of presenting. It represents a very decisive break with the semiotic and psychoanalytic theories of film which have dominated discussion. The central thesis is that film is essentially a pictorial medium and that the movement of film images is real rather than illusory. A general theory of pictorial representation is (...) presented, which insists on the realism of pictures and the impossibility of assimilating them to language. It criticizes attempts to explain the psychology of film viewing in terms of the viewer's imaginary occupation of a position within the world of film. On the contrary, film viewing is nearly always impersonal. (shrink)
Introduction -- Trapped by oneself in Jacques Tourneur's Out of the past -- "A deliberate, intentional fool" in Orson Welles's The lady from Shanghai -- Sexual agency in Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street -- "Why didn't you shoot again, baby?": concluding remarks.
Summary Several subdisciplines within historiography, most notably the arms and armour or martial arts studies, are interested in inferring physical qualities of historical material objects from historical sources. Scholars from these fields face serious deficiency of written accounts when it comes to various crucial information regarding their subject matter. Therefore, researchers’ attention is often drawn to iconographical sources, sometimes resulting in certain fascination with the material culture depicted in primary technical literature. This tendency seems particularly strong in studies on (...) HEMA which rely heavily on pre-modern combat treatises known as ‘fight books’ and are tempted either to treat the available iconography as a faithful representation of its corresponding material reality or to interpret apparent mismatch between icono-graphical representations and their material source domain as evidence for the inferior skills of the illustrator. We would like to put forward that there is a fundamental oversight in such approach to Fachliteratur in general and fight books in particular, namely the lack of consideration for the artwork as a diagrammatic representation of the functional aspects of depicted embodied technique, where proportional ‘realism’ is of lesser priority. It may be fruitful to develop a more nuanced method of ‘reading’ such images. Our survey of select late-medieval fight books shows that equipment, and even body parts, are regularly distorted in their depictions in the fight books to better communicate the subject matter, especially where textual descriptions would be complicated. Interpreted in Gestalt terms, this phenomenon may serve as an example of historical pragmatic application of the cognitive principle of holism – that the whole is something different than the sum of its parts. (shrink)