Grasping the grasp

film-philosophy conference 2013

I am attending the Film-Philosophy Conference 2013: Beyond Film, hosted by the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (Universiteit van Amsterdam) and the EYE Film Institute Netherlands. My paper Canonical cinema. Affordance and Embodied Simulation in the Film Experience aims to evaluate the relevance of the notion of affordance in the neurophenomenological approach to the film experience, with a particular focus on the role of so-called visuomotor neurons. In what sense the film spectator grasps the filmic objects by experiencing the characters’ physical and psychic activity? As grasping the filmic objects, I mean both – literally – the spectator’s simulation of the character’s physical action executed in order to grasp an object in the fictional environment and – figuratively – the spectator’s immediate, prereflexive, empathetic understanding of the meaning of the film characters’ actions, intentions and emotions via a kind of simulation rooted in the body. My idea is that cinema uses perception of affordance and embodied simulation strategically, in order to offer the spectator an exiting, thrilling, intensified experience in terms of sensorimotor and emotional activation (and in fact, these strategies can be found especially in ‘suspense’ genre such as thriller, action, and horror films). Here is a video of some of the ‘grasping strategies’ of intensification of the spectator’s experience:

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