Before introducing this bumper issue of Projections, I have some exciting news to announce. At the most recent meeting of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image (SCSMI), the Board of Directors voted to approve a proposal to commence publishing Projections three times per year starting in 2019. This change is indicative of a steady trend of increasing, high-quality submissions, which not only allows us to publish more and publish more often, but also sends us a positive sign that our reputation for pioneering, interdisciplinary research is attracting attention from more and more scholars.
Next year’s move to three issues per volume will coincide with another important change: By default, subscriptions to Projections will be by electronic access only. In line with current practices at an increasing number of other scholarly journals, this new policy is reflective of the changing ways in which most readers access our content. It will also result in reduced costs to you, our readers, because it will allow us to save money on printing and shipping. Don’t be alarmed, though: Projections will continue to exist in print, and print subscriptions will still be available for a surcharge. New membership rates for the SCSMI are available on its website.
Now, on to our current issue. The bulk of the issue consists of a symposium dedicated to Murray Smith’s new book, Film, Art, and the Third Culture: A Naturalized Aesthetics of Film. One of the features of Smith’s book that makes it of particular interest to our readership is its abiding commitment to interdisciplinarity. More specifically, Smith proposes that the study of our aesthetic experience of cinema ought to be approached through a process of “triangulation.” On Smith’s view, triangulation involves (roughly speaking) a process of theory-building that considers and weighs the evidence of three distinct levels of experience—the phenomenological, the psychological, and the neurophysiological. Given this particular emphasis on interdisciplinarity in Smith’s book, not to mention its scope and ambition, we’ve recruited a large group of leading and emerging scholars across a number of disciplines—film studies, aesthetics, philosophy of mind, psychology, and neuroscience. What emerges is a lively and stimulating debate about a book that offers not only an account of our aesthetic experience of film, but which sensitively explores some of the most important and difficult questions we face about the relationship between the humanities, the sciences, art, and aesthetics.
This issue is rounded out with two standard articles. The first, by Johannes Riis, dovetails with Sermin Ildirar and Louise Ewing’s revisitation, in our previous issue, of the Kuleshov experiments, and with Smith’s discussion of what he calls “the Kuleshov Fallacy” – the idea that “the context of an individual shot, as established by editing, will entirely determine our interpretation of the contents of the shot” (137). Riis’s article explores the stylistic subtleties in the acting of Ivan Mozzhukhin, who is today best known for his putatively “blank” expression in Kuleshov’s editing experiments. Riis’s rich analysis of Mozzhukhin’s performances counters this erroneous legacy with which the actor has been saddled.
The second article, by Catalin Brylla and Mette Kramer, proposes a new framework for a “pragmatic” approach to the study of documentaries. Brylla and Kramer seek to synthesize earlier cognitivist scholarship on documentaries with other salient strands of research, building a framework that permits a number of different research foci (e.g., the mediation of reality, character engagement, viewer emotions and embodied experience, and documentary practice) to be studied via a pluralistic, multimethod approach that integrates “textual,” contextual, and intertextual elements. Like Smith and a number of his commentators, Brylla and Kramer see the cutting edge of film scholarship in a mutually informative collaboration between the humanities and the sciences.