The intangible ground

2010 (Peter Hyams, 1984)

Tangibility is a key factor in our contemporary relationship with media – it is also the thematic focus of a special section in issue #2 of NECSUS – European Journal of Media Studies. In my essay The intangible ground: A neurophenomenology of the film experience I argue that the activity of ‘visuomotor neurons’ can be thought of as the very core process of film ‘viewing’ as an experience of tangibility. By tangibility, I mean the spectator’s opportunity to touch and grasp the objects that are touched and grasped by the character; and, in a more general sense, her/his impression of being grounded on a supporting surface, as the characters are. In order to explore such grasping and grounding, I propose a counterintuitive approach – i.e., to analyse what happens when tactile sensoriality is not fully applicable and gravity is not valid in the fictional environment, such as in space-exploration films: ungrasping, ungrounding, intangibility.