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Brian Bergen-Aurand

This issue acknowledges the work of Rosalie Fish (Cowlitz), Jordan Marie Daniels (Lakota), and the many others who refuse to ignore the situation that has allowed thousands of Indigenous women and girls to be murdered or go missing across North America without the full intervention of law enforcement and other local authorities. As Rosalie Fish said in an interview regarding her activism on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG),

"I felt a little heavy at first just wearing the paint. And I think that was . . . like my ancestors letting me know . . . you need to take this seriously: “What you’re doing, you need to do well.” And I think that’s why I felt really heavy when I first put on my paint and when I tried to run with my paint at first. . . . I would say my personal strength comes from my grandmas, my mom, my great grandma, and I really hope that’s true, that I made them proud." (Inland Northwest Native News interview)

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Synthetic Beings and Synthespian Ethics

Embodiment Technologies in Science/Fiction

Jane Stadler

Abstract

The screen is the material and imaginative interface where biology meets technology. It is the nexus between science and fiction, where technological and ethical concerns surrounding synthespians, representations of replicants, and manifestations of synthetic biology come into play. This analysis of digital imaging and cinematic imagining of virtual actors and synthetic humans in films such as Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017) examines the ethical implications of digital embodiment technologies and cybernetics. I argue that it is necessary to bring together science and the arts to advance understandings of embodiment and technology. In doing so, I explore commonalities between ethical concerns about technobiological bodies in cultural and scientific discourse and developments such as the creation of virtual humans and “deepfake” digital doubles in screen media.

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Toward a Model of Distributed Affectivity for Cinematic Ethics

Ethical Experience, Trauma, and History

Philip Martin

Abstract

Many contemporary applications of theories of affect to cinematic ethical experience focus on its consequences for empathy and moral allegiance. Such approaches have made advances in bridging phenomenological and cognitivist approaches to film-philosophy, but miss the importance of complex affects that problematize empathy and moral judgment. For example, the rendering of trauma in Aimless Bullet (Hyun-mok Yu, 1961) involves aesthetic shifts that reframe its depiction of postwar experience and build a complex emotional picture of sociopolitical conditions that affect individual and community life. In this article, I argue that to understand the ethical significance of complex cinematic emotion we can develop an account of how affective-aesthetic affordances establish distributed spaces for dynamic affective engagement. To do this, I draw upon theories of scaffolded mind, classical Indian rasa aesthetics, and phenomenological aesthetics. This hybrid account will allow us to articulate the ways that film can help us comprehend the ethical significance of complex affective situations.

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Sol Neely

This Screen Shot section includes three texts—an interview and two articles—that, together, occasion an unsettling movement in the development of an Indigenous phenomenology staged upon Screen Bodies’ concern for the critical tryptic experience, perception, and display. Such phenomenology, moreover, takes shape in the spirit of an enduring and persistent Indigenous cosmopolitanism, one organized by an appeal to a pan-tribal solidarity that is also not shy about drawing from efficacious sources of critique internal to European critical traditions. Together, these texts—and the source materials that inspire them—build rich ecumenical perspectives in the service of decolonial justice and pedagogy. And while the texts included here are composed in English, each draws from and references Indigenous languages, articulating one kind of Indigenous cosmopolitanism that makes use of English as a kind of “trade language.” To stage an Indigenous phenomenology by appeal to an Indigenous cosmopolitanism, in our contemporary political moment, thus calls for critical attention attuned to the perspectives, traditions, and imaginations of what Tlingit poet and author Ernestine Hayes describes as “Indigenous intellectual authority.” In this spirit, Indigenous cosmopolitanism occasions a decolonial-critical cosmopolitanism rooted not in the secular, Habermasian cosmopolitanism of Europe but in the modalities of consciousness, the literary genius and acumen, of Indigenous oral literary traditions. In the context of such a cosmopolitanism in which everyone is variably situated, across the spectrum that divides descendants of perpetrators and victims of settler colonialism, the critical imperative becomes a decolonial one, and non-Indigenous readers are called to shed the epistemological, ontological, and political priorities that broadly characterize European analytical and continental traditions, whatever their internal debates may be. Such an imperative forces phenomenological attention not only on the macrological instantiations of settler-colonial power but also against the “micrological textures of power” that ultimately shape the inner contours of self and, thus, what becomes phenomenologically legible to individuals situated in their cultural contexts.

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Sol Neely

Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2014), written and directed by Mi’kmaq filmmaker Jeff Barnaby, is primarily presented as a residential school “revenge fantasy.” Some critics and reviewers of the film value it for its pedagogical possibilities, arguing that the film occasions opportunity for dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences about the legacies of the residential school system. Yet, numerous decolonial scholars and activists understand that dialogue alone cannot effect the quality of decolonial justice needed in the wake of genocide. This article approaches the film as a saturated phenomenon and examines the kinds of radical phenomenological transformation that must occur, especially among non-Indigenous audiences, for decolonial imperatives to become legible. Beyond developing a more comprehensive historical panorama of the violence and legacies of the residential school system, this article calls for a kind of translation of experience occasioned by the film, one that dramatically subverts and transforms modalities of consciousness on which coloniality is predicated.

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Within the Whole Body

An Interview with Ishmael Hope and Will Geiger on Tlingit House Screens and Indigenous Phenomenology

Sol Neely, Ishmael Hope, and Will Geiger

On a cold, snowy January night in Juneau, Alaska, Will Geiger and I convened at Ishmael Hope’s home—with his wife, Lily, and their five children—for dinner and cordiality in advance of our recording session. The Hope family is exceedingly generous with their time and knowledge, and, as is the case whenever we gather at the Hope home, one can palpably discern the multigenerational inspirations and relations that sustain their work, artistry, and community involvement. Once the children went to bed, we dimmed the lights and pulled out our books.

When the editors of Screen Bodies told me that the journal was interested in expanding notions of screen beyond cinema, I inquired about the possibility of interviewing Ishmael Hope and others on Tlingit house screens and, by a kind of phenomenological appeal, of focusing the conversation through a concern for embodiment. Originally, Ishmael and I invited Will Geiger and Forest Haven, a brilliant Tsimshian PhD candidate from University of California, Irvine, to participate, but Forest was unfortunately unable to attend. Over the years, I have worked closely with these three on a number of academic projects, developing a tight and trusted friendship sustained by mutual respect and interwoven eruditions.

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Acoustic Startles in Horror Films

A Neurofilmological Approach

Valerio Sbravatti

Abstract

The acoustic blast is one of the most recurrent sound devices in horror cinema. It is designed to elicit the startle response from the audience, and thus gives them a “jump scare.” It can occur both in the form of a diegetic bang and in the form of a nondiegetic stinger (i.e., a musical blare provided by the score). In this article, I will advance the hypothesis that silence plays a crucial role in contemporary horror films, both perceptually, since it leaves the sound field free for the acoustic blast, and cognitively, since it posits the audience in an aversive anticipatory state that makes the startle more intense. I will analyze the acoustic startle using a neurofilmological approach, which takes into account findings from experimental sciences in order to better understand the relationship between physiological and psychological factors that make such an effect possible during the filmic experience.

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Jeff Smith, Dominic Topp, Jason Gendler, and Francesco Sticchi

Giorgio Biancorosso, Situated Listening: The Sound of Absorption in Classical Cinema (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), xi +246 pp., $55 (hardback), ISBN: 9780195374711.

Reviewed by Jeff Smith

Lea Jacobs, Film Rhythm after Sound: Technology, Music, and Performance (Oakland: University of California Press, 2015), 280 pp., $34.95 (paperback), ISBN: 9780520279650.

Reviewed by Dominic Topp

Miklós Kiss and Steven Willemsen, Impossible Puzzle Films: A Cognitive Approach to Contemporary Complex Cinema (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017), 240 pp., £70.00 (hardback), £19.00 (paperback), ISBN: 9781474406727.

Reviewed by Jason Gendler

Steffen Hven, Cinema and Narrative Complexity: Embodying the Fabula (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2017), 261 pp., 22.00 (paperback), ISBN 9789462980778.

Reviewed by Francesco Sticchi

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The Eisenstein-Vygotsky-Luria Collaboration

Triangulation and Third Culture Debates

Julia Vassilieva

Abstract

This article analyzes the unique historical collaboration between the revolutionary Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein (1898–1948), the cultural psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934), and the founder of contemporary neuropsychology, Alexander Luria (1902–1977). Vygotsky's legacy is associated primarily with the idea that cultural mediation plays a crucial role in the emergence and development of personality and cognition. His collaborator, Luria, laid the foundations of contemporary neuropsychology and demonstrated that cultural mediation also changes the functional architecture of the brain. In my analysis, I demonstrate how the Eisenstein-Vygotsky-Luria collaboration exemplifies a strategy of productive triangulation that harnesses three disciplinary perspectives: those of cultural psychology, neuropsychology, and film theory and practice.

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Ted Nannicelli

Welcome to the first issue of our first three-issue volume of Projections. We begin this issue with a truly exciting collaboration between a filmmaker (and scholar), Karen Pearlman, and a psychologist, James E. Cutting. Cutting and Pearlman analyze a number of formal features, including shot duration, across successive cuts of Pearlman's 2016 short film, Woman with an Editing Bench. They find that the intuitive revisions that Pearlman made actually track a progression toward fractal structures – complex patterns that also happen to mark three central pulses of human existence (heartbeat, breathing, walking).