Appello per un’analisi gestaltista del film a dieci anni dalla morte di Rudolf Arnheim

Escher-Inception.pngEsattamente dieci anni fa, il 9 giugno 2007, moriva ad Ann Arbor, Michigan, all’età di quasi 103 anni, Rudolf Arnheim, lo psicologo dell’arte che grazie a opere come Arte e percezione visiva e Il pensiero visivo è stato e continua a essere un punto di riferimento obbligato per generazioni di studenti, studiosi e professionisti nel campo dell’analisi, della critica e della pratica delle arti visive. Arnheim è considerato anche uno dei teorici classici del cinema per la sua applicazione degli assunti della Psicologia della Gestalt all’analisi del film (Film als Kunst esce nel 1932). Le sue posizioni radicali sono state criticate in diverse epoche e ambiti intellettuali, ma sono per alcuni aspetti ancora valide e spesso vengono inconsapevolmente adottate da critici e studiosi.

L’evoluzione e la contaminazione dei linguaggi audiovisivi, la moltiplicazione e mutazione degli schermi, gli avanzamenti tecnologici applicati ai media e alle arti non hanno mutato le condizioni di base della composizione e della percezione visiva. È ancora possibile oggi applicare i principi della psicologia della Gestalt all’esperienza filmica, come fece Arnheim negli anni Trenta del secolo scorso? Un mio articolo intitolato “L’occhio creativo. Appello per un’analisi gestaltista del film a dieci anni dalla morte di Rudolf Arnheim” (Segnocinema #205) ripercorre in sintesi le premesse e le caratteristiche della teoria filmica di Arnheim, proponendone una sua rivitalizzazione.


Ho avuto la fortuna di incontrare Arnheim personalmente, un assolato pomeriggio dell’agosto del 2005, in una residenza immersa nel verde nei dintorni di Ann Arbor. Conservo gelosamente una copia economica di Film as Art – la più diffusa – autografata con la mano secolare e fragile di un uomo di oltre 101 anni. Ma soprattutto il commovente ricordo di un incontro profondamente umano.



Fashionating Images. Audiovisual Media Studies Meet Fashion

Schermata 2016-04-18 alle 11.57.11

Over the past decades, fashion has acquired centrality in social and economic processes for its capacity to penetrate and influence both cultural production and identitarian practices. The proliferation of media objects such as fashion films, makeover TV shows, fashion blogs and vlogs has shown how prolific the encounter between fashion and audiovisual media can be. The aim of Comunicazioni Sociali. Journal of Media, Performing Arts and Cultural Studies‘ special issue on Fahsionating Images. Audiovisual Media Studies Meet Fashion (No. 1, January-April 2017, co-edited by Adriano D’Aloia, Marie-Aude Baronian and Marco Pedroni) is to explore this intersection and, consequently, the cross fertilization between fashion studies and media studies, with particular regard to audiovisual media, such as cinema, television, advertising and digital video. The essays interrogate how the combination of fashion and the moving-image enables us to reflect upon the ubiquitous presence of fashion in our media-saturated landscape, and at the same time upon the ubiquitous presence of media in socio-cultural practices and industrial processes such as fashion. Questioning the encounter between audiovisual media and fashion brings an elective affinity to light. If fashion is central to cinema and television and gives rise to a wide range of new genres and formats, it also impacts on the forms of representation and expression of identity and the body via personal and social media, according to the prevailing customs and tastes of our place and time. This encounter is a terrain of experimentation with new trends in the media experience – ones that rely on performativity and the enhancement of the viewer/user’s agency. After all, audiovisual media are similarly about constructing a fictional (and entertaining) world and actively and creatively inhabiting it as an essential part of the actual world.

» Table of Contents (Introduction free download)


Fashionating Images. Audiovisual media studies meet Fashion


This CS Journal special issue (No. 1/2017) aims at exploring the encounter and intersection between fashion studies and media studies, with particular reference to visual and audiovisual products, e.g. cinema, television, advertising and digital media. Over the past decades, fashion acquired centrality in social and economical dynamics in Western culture for its capability to penetrate and influence both production and identitarian practices. Fashion both fully takes part in artistic processes as an autonomous aesthetic and semantic object (fashion as a medium) and has a pivotal role in crea­tive industry as a provider of fundamental material for the formation of imaginary worlds and characters (fash­ion as a media industry). At the same time fashion has established as an autonomous and institutionalized social field able to influence and shape contemporary culture.

Thanks to both its symbolic and corporeal substance, the outfit can be thought as a vehicle and a means of direct ex­pression of identity (fashion as a social and personal medium) and as a prosthesis of human relational faculty (fashion as a “technology of the body”). Symptom of this centrality is that, although fashion has been part of the cinematic mise-en-scène since the birth of cinema, in recent years new genres have arisen at the encounter between cinema and advertising, e.g. short fashion films. The world of fashion became the theme or the setting of a num­ber of television broadcasting networks or streaming services, programs and genres. Finally, it should be also consid­ered the growing role of social media and the rise of digital influencers such as fashion bloggers, YouTube and Instagram stars, who are challenging the field of traditional fashion media and using multimediality as a re­source to establish themselves as celebrities in a new media ecology.

We encourage scholars from the fields of both audiovisual media and fashion studies to explore this intriguing intersection and the new horizons of audiovisual fashion. We particularly welcome contributions that discuss how audiovisual studies and fashion studies can cross-fertilize each other and expand the theoretical framework of each approach. Objects of analysis and theoretical and/or methodological reflection may include (but are not limited to):

  • Theoretical/Epistemological intersections: Relationships between fashion studies and audiovisual me­dia studies; Phenomenology of the body and fashion; Mediatization of fashion; Fashion and the vis­ual mediascape; Fashion and visual culture.
  • Fashion and audiovisual media industry: Fashion and audiovisual media professionals; Costume de­sign.
  • Fashion and cinema: Fashion films; Fashion documentaries; Fashion film festival; Fashion in cinema.
  • Fashion and television: Fashion and TV commercials; Fashion-themed TV series; Fashion-themed real­ity TV shows.
  • Fashion and audiovisual aesthetics: Fashion and videoart; The use of audiovisual media in runaway shows.
  • Fashion and internet-based media: Fashion vlog and vloggers; Fashion and video social network sites; Fashion and video-celebrities.

The special issue will be co-edited by Marie-Aude Baronian (Universiteit van Amsterdam), Adriano D’Aloia (International Telematic University UniNettuno) and Marco Pedroni (eCampus University).

Deadlines & Guidelines

Please send your abstract to by June 30, 2016. Notifications of acceptance will be emailed shortly after the deadline. Abstracts must be from 300 to 400 words long. The proposal shall include 5 keywords, authors, institution, and contacts (e-mail), together with a short curriculum (up to 5 lines) for each au­thor.

In case the proposal is accepted, authors will be asked to send the whole article preferably in English by October 2, 2016. Articles in Italian, French and Spanish will be accepted too. Contributions will be sent to two independ­ent reviewers in a double-blind procedure prior to publication decision. Articles should be of between 4,000-5,000 words in length (no more than 35,000 characters, spaces and notes included), but shorter articles will be considered.


Cognition of narrative events: a True detection

Schermata 2016-05-27 alle 11.04.51MediaMutations 8 (Università di Bologna, May 25-26) hosted the paper The boundaries of never-ending. Events cognition and complex TV series narratives, a first exploration and literature survey on the notions of cognitive events and event segmentation in contemporary popular audiovisual storytelling forms, such as films, serial films, anthological and serialized TV series. The project is developed in co-operation with prof. Ruggero Eugeni and within the more general framework of Neurofilmology, a theoretical approach aiming at a comprehensive interpretation of media experience through the intersection between semiotics/narratology/aesthetic and cognitive psychology and neurocognitive research.

What is an narrative event? How do we perceive, remember, predict a narrative event?  How do we organize our narrative experiences – nowadays more pervasive thank to quality TV – into events? What is the relationship between film editing and cognitive editing?

Schermata 2016-05-27 alle 11.05.03

As a case study, we offered a (bit provocative) comparison between two stylistically antipodean sequences of HBO’s crime drama True Detective. Whereas episode Who Goes There (01×04) “refuses” editing and is shot with a single 6-minutes long shot, episode Down Will Come (02×04) adopts intensified continuity and high-paced editing, with 300 cuts in 9 minutes… a very “gun shot”! Although radically different in terms of editing style, both the sequences help to reflect on critical issues such as causality, complexity, temporality and embodiment. Our aim is that of develop an embodied approach to “extended narrative temporalities”.

Our presentation design takes inspiration and materials from the marvelous infographic We keep the other bad man from the door, a tribute to True Detective by Nigel Evan Dennis.

Snapshot Culture. The Photographic Experience in the Post-Medium Age

Schermata 2016-04-18 alle 11.57.11

For the first time since the beginning of its history, exactly 50 years ago, Comunicazioni Sociali devotes a special issue to Photography: Snapshot Culture. The Photographic Experience in the Post-Medium Age (No. 1/2016, edited by Adriano D’Aloia and Francesco Parisi). For a long time, the study of photography has been a part of Art studies or a mere object of philosophical investigations. Yet, after the advent of digital technologies it progressively became central in Media and Communication studies. From the 2000s onwards, various social and technological events made photography more accessible, ubiquitous, public, cheap, democratic, immediate and shared than ever before, paving the way to a renewal of photographic experience. New objects, formats, devices, practices and uses emerged as specific traits of a ‘performative’ photographic agency. This emergence is allowed by the fact that photography, despite being one of the most ancient media, still shapes our lives, empowers our biological vision, and enhances our imaginative visual practices. The editors of this issue propose the term ‘snapshot culture’ to refer to  the combination of technological, aesthetic and practical shifts in contemporary photographic experience. Snapshot culture is characterized by a twofold dynamic: the persistence of the original traits of the photographic experience as it emerged and developed, coupled with the modulation of new opportunities offered by technological improvements and social changes. Indeed, the digitalization of photographic aesthetics and related media practices provides an ideal case for studying some of the most challenging developments in visual media aesthetics within the broader landscape of the post-medium condition and for reflecting on how photography theory has responded to such challenges in the post-theoryera. This special issue offers a critical investigation of photography’s ‘persistence’ in the media experience through both an analysis of concrete objects and phenomena (e.g. selfies, animated GIFs, social networking, computational photography)  and the refinement of theoretical approaches to photography.

» Table of Contents (Introduction free download) 

Per la prima volta nella sua storia, cominciata esattamente cinquant’anni fa, Comunicazioni Sociali dedica un intero monografico alla Fotografia: Snapshot Culture. The Photographic Experience in the Post-Medium Age (n. 1/2016, a cura di Adriano D’Aloia e Francesco Parisi). Lo studio della fotografia è stato a lungo appannaggio dell’ambito artistico-estetico, o tutt’al più oggetto strumentale di investigazioni filosofiche. Con l’avvento delle tecnologie digitali la fotografia ha invece guadagnato progressiva centralità negli studi sui media e sulla comunicazione. Dagli anni 2000 in avanti una serie di eventi sociali e tecnologici l’ha resa più accessibile, ubiqua, personale, economica, democratica, immediata e condivisa, e ha aperto la strada a una nuova esperienza fotografica. Nonostante sia uno dei più antichi media moderni, la fotografia continua oggi a dare visibilità e forma alle nostre vite, a potenziare la nostra visione biologica ed ad accrescere la nostra immaginazione visiva. I curatori di questo monografico introducono l’espressione “snapshot culture” per riferirsi al complesso dei mutamenti estetici e pratici dell’esperienza fotografica, con l’intento di evidenziarne gli aspetti rilevanti e innovativi, pur senza sottacere le ricadute problematiche. La “snapshot culture” è caratterizzata da una duplice dinamica: da un lato la persistenza dei tratti originari e costitutivi dell’esperienza fotografica, dall’altro la modulazione di nuove opportunità offerte dalle innovazioni tecnologiche e dai cambiamenti sociali, nello scenario di una più ampia “condizione post-mediale”. I contributi raccolti offrono un’esplorazione critica della “persistenza” della fotografia nell’esperienza contemporanea, sia attraverso l’analisi di oggetti e fenomeni concreti (dal selfie alla GIF animata, da Instagram alla fotografia computazionale…), sia attraverso la rilettura e la revisione degli approcci interpretativi finora utilizzati per comprenderla.

» Sommario (Introduzione scaricabile gratuitamente) 


Comunicazioni Sociali compie 50 anni. Per celebrare la ricorrenza la redazione della rivista e l’editore Vita e Pensiero promuovono una serie di iniziative volte a ripercorre le tappe decisive della storia della rivista, fare il punto sullo stato dell’arte nel panorama scientifico e culturale del presente e proiettare lo sguardo verso le sfide del futuro.

CS50L’iniziativa principale avrà luogo martedì 22 marzo in Università Cattolica come evento di chiusura del Convegno internazionale È la vita che vi afferra e vi trascina”: L’Università Cattolica e la ricerca sui media dal dopoguerra agli anni Settanta, organizzato dal Dipartimento di Scienze della comunicazione e dello spettacolo in collaborazione con ALMED – Alta Scuola di comunicazione, media e spettacolo. Alle ore 17.30 nella sede di via Nirone (aula NI 110, Via Nirone 15, Milano) andrà “in scena” l’evento ComStory. I ruggenti 50 anni di Comunicazioni Sociali, racconto per attori, immagini e professori scritto da Claudio Bernardi, docente di drammaturgia dell’Università Cattolica e interpretato dai personaggi di fantasia “Vita” (Matilde Dondena) e “Pensiero” (Daniele Giulietti) e dai membri della redazione di CS (Paolo Braga, Roberta Carpani, Adriano D’Aloia, Massimo Locatelli, Laura Peja, Massimo Scaglioni, Nicoletta Vittadini).

Vai al sito »

Neurofilmologia. I media audiovisivi e la sfida delle neuroscienze


Nel corso degli ultimi due decenni alcune scoperte avvenute nell’ambito delle neuroscienze cognitive hanno permeato le humanities e le scienze sociali – fra queste anche gli studi sui media e in particolare gli audiovisivi. Le ricerche sui meccanismi di rispecchiamento neurale, sull’empatia e sulla cosiddetta “simulazione incarnata” costituiscono oggi le premesse culturali e i fondamenti teorici di un approccio innovativo (anche se non affatto inedito in quanto derivante almeno dalla stagione “storica” della Filmologia) allo studio dell’esperienza mediale, a cavallo tra scienze della mente ed estetica.

Cinema&CieNeurofilmologia è un neologismo coniato da Adriano D’Aloia e Ruggero Eugeni, studiosi dell’esperienza mediale all’Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore e curatori del monografico “Neurofilmology. Audiovisual Studies and the Challenge of Neuroscience” recentemente pubblicato nel n. 22-23 della rivista Cinéma&Cie. International Film Studies Journal. La Neurofilmologia è un programma di ricerca che nasce dall’integrazione di modelli di spettatore apparentemente antitetici. Da un lato una…

View original post 244 more words

Neurofilmology. Audiovisual Studies and the Challenge of Neuroscience

cove def

Over the last two decades, discoveries made in the field of cognitive neuroscience have begun to permeate the humanities and social sciences. In the context of this intersection, Neurofilmology is a research program that arises at the encounter between two models of viewer: the viewer-as-mind (deriving from a cognitive/analytical approach) and the viewer-as-body (typical of the phenomenological/continental approach). Accordingly, Neurofilmology focuses on the viewer-as-organism, by investigating with both empirical and speculative epistemological tools the subject of audiovisual experience, postulated as embodied, embedded, enacted, extended, emerging, affective, and relational.

The special issue 22/23 of Cinéma & Cie, edited by Adriano D’Aloia and Ruggero Eugeni, focuses on major conceptual and epistemological arguments arising from the dialogue between audiovisual studies and neurosciences developed over the last twenty years. In fact, the contributors share the conviction that such a dialogue can be fruitful if and only if it is conducted within a common and consistent framework, including both epistemological and conceptual aspects. Such a framework should allow each of the research programs to contribute to a shared understanding of that particular and complex phenomenon that is the film and audiovisual media viewing experience.


  • Adriano D’Aloia and Ruggero EugeniNeurofilmology: An Introduction
  • Temenuga TrifonovaNeuroaesthetics and Neurocinematics: Reading the Brain/Film through the Film/Brain 
  • Maria PoulakiNeurocinematics and the Discourse of Control: Towards a Critical Neurofilmology 
  • Patricia PistersDexter’s Plastic Brain: Mentalizing and Mirroring in Cinematic Empathy 
  • Enrico CarocciFirst-Person Emotions: Affective Neuroscience and the Spectator’s Self 
  • Maarten Coëgnarts and Peter KravanjaThe Sensory-Motor Grounding of Abstract Concepts in Two Films by Stanley Kubrick 
  • Pia Tikka and Mauri KaipainenPhenomenological Considerations on Time Consciousness under Neurocinematic Search Light 
  • Vittorio Gallese and Michele GuerraThe Feeling of Motion: Camera Movements and Motor Cognition 

    Cover image: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (Joseph Green, USA 1962). Poster by Reynold Brown

    © 2015 – Mimesis International
    ISBN 9788869770227 | ISSN 2035-5270

Gli agguati dello sguardo

Fig. 1

Viviamo ancora le immagini dell’acqua,
le viviamo sinteticamente nella loro complessità primaria
dando spesso loro la nostra adesione irragionevole.

Gaston Bachelard, Psicanalisi delle acque, 1987

Riferimento imprescindibile dell’invenzione cinematografica contemporanea, le inquadrature “acquatiche” che presagiscono gli agguati dello squalo sono il cuore dell’esperienza che lo spettatore ha compiuto nel 1975 e continua tutt’oggi a compiere di fronte a Jaws. Il film di Steven Spielberg (regia), Verna Fields (montaggio), John Williams (musiche) e Bill Butler (fotografia) sfrutta con grande efficacia le potenzialità visive e simboliche dell’acqua, coinvolgendo lo spettatore in una terrorizzante immersione. Da sempre del resto l’acqua nel cinema dà materia e sostanza ai desideri, ai sogni, alle ossessioni, ai traumi, alle paure consce e inconsce dell’uomo, trasfigurando sullo schermo i miti e gli archetipi dell’immaginario individuale e collettivo. Questo contributo, intitolato Gli agguati dello sguardo. Enunciazione della suspense in Jaws e inserito nello speciale sui 40 anni de Lo squalo curato da Andrea Minuz per la rivista Cinergie (n. 7/2015), si sofferma proprio su alcuni aspetti stilistici e formali del film, in particolare sulle inquadrature “acquatiche” che contraddistinguono la prima metà del film e che suggeriscono la presenza del mostro e l’imminenza di un suo attacco all’uomo. La tesi fondamentale è che il gioco di allineamenti e disallineamenti ottici costruito attorno allo sguardo dello squalo e l’insistente sollecitazione della sensibilità corporea dello spettatore costituiscano un’originale strategia di costituzione dell’esperienza filmica.

Fig. 7

Snapshot culture. The persistence of the photographic experience in post-media aesthetics

CS IMAGECOMUNICAZIONI SOCIALI. Journal of Media, Performing arts and Cultural studies


The contemporary mediascape is characterized by continuous and endless remediation flows that re-shape and hybridize the contents, the forms and the vehicles of visual-based media experience. In such a scenario, over the last years photography has gained a central role in negotiating between the need for innovation propelled by digital media and the persistence of its original nature and purposes. On the one hand, the advent of photo-sharing websites and social networks, photography apps for mobile devices, portable hybrid devices for photo and video (e.g. GoPro), set the field for the emergence of new experimental and non-professional media practices that have progressively reshaped the spatiotemporal and sociocultural boundaries of the photographic image. The recent development of photographic devices, technologies and practices created a backfire effect on institutional forms of photographic communication (e.g. photojournalism, auteur photography, art exhibition, travel photography, reportage, camera and film market). On the other hand, such mutations caused a “crisis” of photography theory, since the hypothesis by which the digital transformation of the mediascape would have changed the uses and the ontology of photography, seems to be rebutted, for the latter continues to fulfil the same original concerns: the representation/identification of the self (and the other); the documentation, investigation and reinvention of reality; the poetic discovering of the hidden side of the world; the archiving of individual and collective memories; the crystallization of time and space. In brief, whereas the digital deposed device-content indivisibility, the photographic medium still hold its specificity of the experience and practices (rather than technologies) it enables and the cultural needs it implies and caters to.

Given these premises, the digitalization of photographic aesthetics and related media practices is an elective case 1) to study some of the most challenging mutations in contemporary visual culture and, more broadly, in media culture; 2) to reflect on the reception of such challenges in the field of photography theory. Consequently, this CS special issue aims to critically investigate the “persistence” of the photographic medium through 1) the analysis of concrete objects and phenomena, and 2) the refinement of theoretical approaches to photography, in both cases with particular attention to the aesthetic and phenomenological dimensions of the present-days photographic experience.

Objects of analysis and theoretical reflection may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Think. Philosophy of photography, photography and cognitive sciences, semiotics of photography, art history and photography, etc.
  • Exchange. Cinema and photography, painting and photography, etc.
  • Share. Social networks and websites
  • Edit. Professional photo-editing apps for mobile devices
  • Store. Software, technologies and procedures of archiving
  • Organize. Tagging, hashtagging, etc.
  • Shoot. Selfies, Landscapes, etc.
  • Time. Animated Gif, time-lapse, etc.
  • Antiquise. Vintage filters and nostalgic practices
  • Extend.Selfie stick, wide-angles, helmet cams, etc.

Deadlines & Guidelines

Please send your abstract to both the editors Adriano D’Aloia ( and Francesco Parisi ( by March 15, 2015. Notifications of acceptance will be emailed shortly after the deadline. Abstracts must be from 300 to 400 words long, and may be presented in English. The proposal shall include 5 keywords, authors, institution, and contacts (e-mail), together with a short curriculum for each author.

In case the proposal is accepted, authors will be asked to send the whole article by June 20, 2015. Contributions will be sent to two independent reviewers in a double-blind procedure prior to publication decision. Articles should be of between 4,000-5,000 words in length (no more than 35,000 characters, spaces and notes included), but shorter articles will be considered.


CfP CS Photography.pdf