Research Focus: Spectatorship and Beyond

Spectatorship and Beyond

Spectatorship and Beyond

One of Cinepoetics’ basic assumptions is that the activity of film spectators entails much more than the processes of understanding narratives and recognizing styles, detecting clues and making inferences. Instead, it must be grasped as an act of appropriation that entails the creation of spatial and temporal logics – which in turn ground a process of poetic meaning-making on the part of the spectator. We attribute this creation, i.e. the poiesis of film-viewing, to the emergence of schemata of cognition as well as specific modalities of feeling and thinking in the interaction of audiovisual images with the embodied activity of seeing and hearing. Accordingly, we assume these schemata and modalities to be intimately tied to effects of subjectivity and only to be grasped within a historical perspective.

In this semester we will probe the explanatory potential that this idea of creative spectatorship bears by studying it against the backdrop of specific constellations in cultural history as well as different variations with regard to the mediality of audiovisual images. How does the appropriation of audiovisual images that the concept of a poiesis of film-viewing assumes relate to the concepts of appropriation in socio-economic, cultural or post-colonial studies? How do questions of hegemoniality and marginality currently raised in critical discourses play out at the level of concrete, embodied spectatorship? And how do we link the poiesis of film-viewing to the diverse cultural discourses about film? Or, with regard to the varying mediality of moving images: How can we grasp the undeniable movement-quality of comic books, both within images and between panels, in its similarities and differences to audiovisual images? What insights with regard to audiovisual images, subjectivity, and appropriation can be generated by means of studying interactive audiovisual media? 

A central case study with regard to the assumptions and questions above will address the aesthetic experience and poetics of video games. The audiovisuality of video games is largely underrepresented in game studies, usually either concerned with aspects of game-play or narrative structures. From a film studies perspective, in turn, the shift from viewing as an embodied activity to the act of playing and thereby directly influencing the audiovisual image space bears the potential to make creative appropriation observable – and generate new theoretical insights into the process of poetic meaning on the part of the spectator. 

We hope that by focusing on these threshold-areas, the zones of indiscernibility, we can learn more about the ways embodied spectators interact with audiovisual images as well as about the connection between these and other media technologies and media formats.