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Title: Sense as muse and lessons in perception : the avant-garde filmmaker as practical psychologist
Author: Taberham, Paul
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2013
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The central goal of this thesis is to frame a widespread mode of practice amongst avant-garde filmmakers as a form of 'practical psychology,' rather than a form of artistry that masochistically rejects pleasurable aesthetic experiences - as it has been characterised by Steven Pinker and others in a cognitive context. I will suggest that, taking "sense as muse" (in Stan Brakhage's words), many avantgarde filmmakers introspectively draw creative inspiration from their own cognitive and perceptual capacities, and touch on topics explored by actual psychologists. These include narrative comprehension, memory, visual perception, synchronisation and synaesthesia; each of these themes will be considered in detail. I will also suggest that as practical psychologists, avant-garde filmmakers provide "lessons in perception" (in Michael Snow's words), offering psychological experiences that are largely unrehearsed in commercial cinema, and life in general. This practice will be framed as a form of 'expansionism.' In addition, I will advance the argument that avant-garde filmmakers provide spectators occasion to reflect on their own habits of mind and perceptual facilities by challenging them, rather than triggering well-rehearsed cognitive and perceptual processes which run beneath the conscious radar. My thesis is divided into three parts that focus, in turn, on cognition, visual, and audio-visual perception. In each, I will demonstrate how avant-garde films can teach us about the nature of our own minds. If the spectator is willing to engage with films that do not attempt to directly interface with pre-existing, wellrehearsed skills of comprehension, the avant-garde may reveal experiences and pleasures which develop the viewer's sensitivities and range of engagement skills. In a sense, my argument is an updated invocation of the Romantic model of the artist-as-prophet who enlightens the mind, in the context of modern research on cognition and perception.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available