The naturalization of the aesthetic experience of film and art can benefit from the contribution of neuroscience because we can investigate empirically the concepts we use when referring to it and what they are made of at the level of description of the brain-body. The neuroscientific subpersonal level of description is necessary but not sufficient, unless it is coupled with a full appreciation of the tight relationship that the brain entertains with the body and the world. In this article, I will discuss aspects of Murray Smith’s proposal on the aesthetic experience of art and film as presented in his Film, Art, and the Third Culture against the background of a new model of perception and imagination: embodied simulation.
The Role of (Liberated) Embodied Simulation
the effectiveness of a refugee simulation
Stacy Keogh George
This article describes the incorporation of a refugee simulation into an upper-division sociology course on globalisation at a liberal arts institution in the United States. The simulation is designed to inform students of the refugee process in the United States by inviting participants to immerse themselves in refugee experiences by adopting identities of actual refugee families as they complete four stages of the refugee application process. Student reactions to the refugee simulation suggest that it is an effective tool for demonstrating the complexities of the refugee experience in the United States and for evoking social empathy.
Poetry's Tall Tales and Short Stories
Jean Baudrillard’s essay, ‘Simulacra and Simulations’, speaks of the postmodern condition as one in which the only ‘reality’ is a virtual one, constituted in the interminable play of signifiers which saturate our experience. Today, he argues, Simulation is no longer … of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: the hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it. Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory … it is the map that engenders the territory. … It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges subsist here and there, in the deserts which are … our own. The desert of the real itself.
Laura Spielvogel and Christian Spielvogel
In this report, we introduce our digital e-textbook web platform with an integrated role-playing game, which has been created for 'introduction to anthropology' courses. We believe that textbooks have the potential to do more to motivate students' pursuit of learning if their material (topically organised chapters supported by leading theories, concepts and ideas in a discipline) is tied to an engaging role-playing narrative whereby students can access, analyse, critique and apply information as characters in a simulation. Thus, we have created a two-sided platform that allows students to flip between a macro context and a role-playing simulation. The macro context explores the challenges and rewards of fieldwork, the politics surrounding ethnographic representation and the contested theories of culture. These issues are typically covered in a print-based anthropology textbook but here they have additional digital features. These topics are then applied in a role-playing simulation, Marriage of Cultures, that allows each student anonymously to play a character in a three to four week, open-ended narrative structured around the imaginary wedding of a Japanese bride and her Italian-American groom.
Evolution has equipped us with the ability to conceive of people and their actions in hypothetical, purely fictional, and fantastic scenarios. The way we conceive of real people, the way we make sense of fictional character, and the way we process needs and desires related to other people in our fantasies are all interconnected with one another. These are all instances of blending, often based on rather minimal direct information but supported by shared character-related schemata and mental simulation, the latter typically eliciting a degree of partial identification. The structural relationships and interconnectedness between these three processes can be examined in terms of the formalist notion of motivation.
In this article, I reply to the eleven commentaries on Film, Art, and the Third Culture gathered here, organizing my responses thematically and seeking to find points of similarity and difference among the commentators as well as with my own perspective. I address arguments on embodied simulation; the analogy between films and dreams; aesthetic experience and the “expansion” of ordinary experience; the relationships between culture and cognition and between fiction and emotion; theories of the extended mind and of niche construction; the place of neuroscience in aesthetics; and the relationship between naturalism and normativity. I conclude with some reflections on naturalistic methodology.
The haptic turn in film studies, which has been growing in currency since the late 1990s, is gaining support from recent studies in cognitive neuroscience. This article draws on this convergence, as a productive route to investigating experimental cinema. Phil Solomon’s concept of “the physical anxiety of form itself” is taken up as a point of departure for close analysis of three films: The Secret Garden (1988), The Snowman (1995), and Walking Distance (1999). The article investigates the artist’s optical, chemical, and manual working processes, as well as the specific choice of found footage. Relying primarily on Embodied Simulation theory, the focal argument pivots on Solomon’s “physical anxiety” as it is instantiated in somatosensory arousal. Solomon’s films are analyzed as effective mediators of intersubjective engagement, of the particular “haptic” type. Experimental cinema is thus approached from outside the discursive frame of avant-garde poetics, drawing attention to new perspectives that are currently opening up for moving image studies.
This article proposes that inquiry into the cognitive complexity of film editing processes could provide insight into how edits affect audiences beyond convincing them of temporal and spatial continuity. Application of two influential theories in cognitive studies of the moving image to this inquiry suggests that editors make some decisions to maximize the smooth transference of their own attention and some in response to their own embodied simulation. However, edited sequences that do not conform precisely to the principles of maximum attentional efficiency or that significantly reshape the cinematographer’s “kinematics” (Gallese and Guerra 2012) reveal other cognitive expertise at work. Sequences generated by editors’ feeling for rhythmic phrases of movement, tension, and release create unique expressive forms in film. They require artistry of a higher order, rather than following the relatively straightforward rules of continuity cutting, and may have distinctive affective or cognitive impact on audiences.
The article analyzes how action films use different emotional sources of arousal to create narrative tension and suspense in the PECMA flow (i.e., the mental flow of perceptions that activate emotions, cognition, and action). It analyzes how different emotions link to each other or contrast each other in the narrative flow that one metaphorically might call an emotion symphony. The flow may create a time-out experience because of the way in which the action-oriented flow recruits consciousness in full, similar to the way in which music creates flow experiences, as discussed by cognitive music aestheticians. The article discusses how the flow supports character simulation and how it uses a small set of scenarios (HTTOFF scenarios) to drive the flow. To illustrate the symphonic flow, it makes a close reading of John McTiernan’s Die Hard (1988).
Gal Raz and Talma Hendler
This article reviews significant developments in affective neuroscience suggesting a refinement of the contemporary theoretical discourse on cinematic empathy. Accumulating evidence in the field points to a philogeneticontogenetic-neural boundary separating empathic processes driven by either cognitive or somato-visceral representations of others. Additional evidence suggests that these processes are linked with parasympathetically driven mitigation and proactive sympathetic arousal. It presents empirical findings from a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) film viewing study, which are in line with this theoretical distinction. The findings are discussed in a proposed cinematographic framework of a general dichotomy between eso (inward-directed) and para (side by side with)—dramatic cinematic factors impinging on visceral representations of real-time occurrences or cognitive representations of another's mind, respectively. It demonstrates the significance of this dichotomy in elucidating the unsettling emotional experience elicited by Michael Haneke's Amour.