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Journal ArticleDOI

Philosophy of the Film : Epistemology, Ontology, Aesthetics

01 Sep 1989-The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (Routledge)-Vol. 47, Iss: 4, pp 384-385
TL;DR: The authors examines the overlap between film and philosophy in three distinct ways: epistemological issues in film-making and viewing; aesthetic theory and film; and film as a medium of philosophical expression.
Abstract: Examines the overlap between film and philosophy in three distinct ways: epistemological issues in film-making and viewing; aesthetic theory and film; and film as a medium of philosophical expression.
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01 Jan 2012
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors present a taxonomy of the most common types of choices available to an improviser at the time of performing an improvised piece, including the most important ones from a phenomenological perspective.
Abstract: and general in order to be able to be performed on a wide variety of new inputs. The inputs may be an inventory of notes based upon key, style, et cetera. (Pressing’s cognitive model calls this the “referent.”) My taxonomy is a way of making those inputs clear. 184 Since improvisation (and composition) is fundamentally cognitive and motor selection, then this presupposes a set of things from which to select. One can only select if there are options, choices. Now, it seems that whether a person (agent) is aware (conscious or cognizant of the options (all or even some)), one may always post facto reconstruct the set of choices which were available or present to the agent at the time of selection. By this I mean the set of choices that were available to the agent from an objective point of view. This set has little to do with the actual, individual conscious states of the agent; however, it does involve many specific conditions of the agent and the agent’s environment. For example, a musician S may say that “it never occurred to me to play that B-flat after the A,” even though objectively that choice was available to S. Sometimes, however, we describe others, and even ourselves, as just doing something—no other options presented themselves to consciousness. So, “selection” may seem like an inappropriate term or concept for what is going on in improvisation. It may, however, seem more accurate in composition. When humans perform actions in quick succession, consciously it does not seem like a choice or decision is being made for each separate action. In fact, in some cases it may be difficult to individuate the rapid succession of actions into discrete units. It seems to be a unitary flow of movements. These are half-intentional actions. Beside the (SCI) case, examples of this kind of phenomenon are playing sports, talking, and just mundane actions like walking to the market. From a phenomenological perspective, in some moments the choice or decision aspect can be discerned, while other moments “feel” automatic. Consequently, it is in these seemingly automatic moments that selection may be an erroneous description. But there are several pieces of evidence that suggest that in both cases similar or the same processes are realized. First, it would be impossible to account for talent and skill if some sense of choice or selection or decision was not involved. Indeed, psychologists and others 185 indicate that some people are better than others (usually in some specific domain of behavior) in their speed of thinking, choosing, and moving in situations that require rapidity. In other words, if we cannot attribute responsibility to selection or choice, even in an attenuated sense, training and effort would be diminished or demolished. Why would one train if one could not control the automatic thinking or moving? What would be our understanding of talent and expertise? Second, there is reductio ad absurdam argument that can be given here, analogous to the one Thomas Nagel presents in the classic “Moral Luck” article. One could argue that artistic agents are never responsible for anything they do; they have no agency because all novel thoughts impinge. Humans do not cause their thoughts and selection. My only response is that creativity is still a mystery, and we are not yet epistemically entitled to run this argument to the point of absurdity. Furthermore, cognitive science has informed us that even in these moments sub-conscious motor and kinetic programs or mechanisms are running. Some of these were delineated for improvisation above. This is one reason why a phenomenology needs to be appended to cognitive models and the like. One should also be interested in what is present to the consciousness of the agent, and what is consciously occurring while playing (if anything), not only the underlying processes posited by a cognitive theory, nor what could be going on as argued for in a philosophical theory. David Sudnow is perhaps the best example of a phenomenological approach to improvising. By introspecting on his improvised piano playing and his learning how to play 62 For example, see Sian Beilock, Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To (New York: Free Press, 2010). 63 Thomas Nagel, “Moral Luck” in Mortal Questions, Canto Classics Series (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 24-38. 64 David Sudnow, Ways of the Hand: The Organization of Improvised Conduct (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978), and David Sudnow, Ways of the Hand: A Rewritten Account, foreword by Hubert L. Dreyfus (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001). 186 paino and improvise, Sudnow gives excellent descriptions of the process and actions. One of the most important insights he gives is that selection in jazz piano improvisation is in large part about fingering and the way one’s hands and fingers move across the keys. I can attest that the same is true for stringed instruments, like guitar. Often, when I improvise, my attention is on finger patterns that I know work (with embellishments) over certain “changes.” How strongly the phenomenology of playing an instrument comes to play in thinking about creativity and improvisation in particular comes to the fore in this extraordinary account of a conversation with the famous, brilliant pianist Bill Evans. ... I [Gene Lees] kidded him [Bill Evans] about his rocking a finger on a key on a long note at the end of a phrase. After all, the hammer has already left the string: one has no further physical contact with the sound. ‘Don’t you know the piano has no vibrato?’ I said. ‘Yes,’ Bill responded, ‘but trying for it affects what comes before it in the phrase.’ Evans reveals that there are motor selections that do not enter into the perceivable product (in this case sounds) but yet affect properties of that product. Not all selections will be perceivable in the final product (e.g., performance, recording). One should also be aware that selection may be coerced in both a literal and metaphorical sense. External factors such as authorities may constrain what artists do, thereby eliminating or reducing choices. I may only have the resources to learn one instrument. If I only know how to play saxophone, I am not going to pick up a trumpet. At any given time t, the agent (improviser, player, performer) has twelve pitches available in the range physically determined by the instrument. This range is vague because 65 Gene Lees, “The Poet Bill Evans,” in Reading Jazz: A Gathering of Autobiography, Reportage, and Criticism from 1919 to Now, ed. Robert, Gottlieb (New York: Pantheon, 1996), 424. 187 given certain techniques, which some musicians are able to do and others not, and physical enhancements to instruments, the range can be extended, both to the top and bottom of the frequency or pitch range. But it would wrong to suppose that this complete selection options set is fully available every time, in every context to an improviser. What decreases the possibilities of the selection options group are the constraints that are given and/or accepted by the player, the genre, context, et cetera. Now, the agent may at any point deviate from these constraints (intentionally or otherwise), but she may not deviate from the complete selection options group, unless she changes instrument or technique. The idealized selection options group is coextensive with the set of all physically realizable pitches and all possible durations. This set may be expressed in many ways. For instance, one could simply give the Hertz (Hz) cycles (frequency) of the pitch indexed to a timed duration, such as eight seconds or two seconds. Obviously, this is an infinite set, because the duration of a produced pitch could be infinitely long, and the sound waves, although severely limited by human audibility capacity (even non-human animal audibility) could be infinitely low or high, although there are frequencies which we cease to call sounds. Practically, in Western music theory, the accepted range of pitches is the human audition range (called audio or sonic), 66 I am assuming the agent is using the Western Equal Temperament (ET) tempered system. On the drawbacks of the exclusive use of the ET system that was more or less codified in the eighteenth century, see Ross W. Duffin, How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care) (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007). Scholars have identified at least 150 different temperament tuning systems in Western art music. Of course, ET does not apply to many non-Western music systems. The locus classicus is J. Murray Barbour, Tuning and Temperament: A Historical Survey, Dover Books on Music Series (n.d., n.p., 1951; reprint ed., New York: Dover, 2004). 188 which is approximately from 20 50 Hz (the lowest pipe organ sounds) to 20,000 30,000 Hz; while the accepted range of durations caps out at 128 notes. Selection is the process of choosing an output. The output may be physically realized or produced sound, or a notation for a realizable sound, or both. A single selection is actually an array of various factors as explicated in Pressing’s cognitive model. In using the term “choosing,” or “choice,” again I make no commitment to a theory of free will. This theory and taxonomy may remain neutral. If free will is false, then the selection process will be a product of some set of causal laws. Those causal laws will still have to operate within the taxonomy. Moreover, ideally a selection may be viewed as a choice of each discrete unit with relevant arrays, even though phenomenologically one may not be aware of all of the arrays. A musical phrase or lick may be played wherein the agent chose to play the lick as a whole. The entire phrase, then, which may consist of several pitches of different durations, dynamics, rhythms, and attacks, is the unit of selection—not each discrete pitch et cetera. Following are the selection options sets for musical sound generation (

273 citations

14 Jan 2010
TL;DR: A Philosophy of Cinematic Art as mentioned in this paper examines the work of leading film theorists and philosophers of film, and develops a powerful framework with which to think about cinema as an art form.
Abstract: A Philosophy of Cinematic Art is a systematic study of cinema as an art form, showing how the medium conditions fundamental features of cinematic artworks It discusses the status of cinema as an art form, whether there is a language of film, realism in cinema, cinematic authorship, intentionalist and constructivist theories of interpretation, cinematic narration, the role of emotions in responses to films, the possibility of identification with characters, and the nature of the cinematic medium Groundbreaking in its coverage of a wide range of contemporary cinematic media, it analyses not only traditional photographic films, but also digital cinema, and a variety of interactive cinematic works, including videogames Written in a clear and accessible style, the book examines the work of leading film theorists and philosophers of film, and develops a powerful framework with which to think about cinema as an art

103 citations

02 Jul 2009
TL;DR: In this article, the authorship of authorship in the cinema is discussed and Bergman, Kaila, and the faces of irrationality are discussed, together with a discussion of value, authenticity, and fantasy in Bergman's work.
Abstract: Introduction Illustrations PART ONE: SURVEYING CINEMA AS PHILOSOPHY 1. Theses on cinema as philosophy 2. Arguing over cinema as philosophy PART TWO: AN INTENTIONALIST APPROACH TO FILM AS PHILOSOPHY 3. Types of authorship in the cinema 4. Partial intentionalism PART THREE: ON INGMAR BERGMAN AND PHILOSOPHY 5. Bergman, Kaila, and the faces of irrationality 6. Value, authenticity, and fantasy in Bergman Conclusion

33 citations

30 Sep 2014
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors investigate the articulation between filmmaking using the cameras of personal mobile phones, and the distribution and exhibition of filmmaking at film festivals devised to support and promote its development.
Abstract: This thesis investigates the articulation between filmmaking using the cameras of personal mobile phones, and the distribution and exhibition of filmmaking at film festivals devised to support and promote its development. Covering a research period between 2010 and 2013, I analyse an emergent phenomenon using a mixed methodology over five major chapters. Following a discussion of the ontology of phone filmmaking and its historical situatedness, I establish terminology for each major element of cell cinema. Bridging features of contemporary digital filmmaking with the entertainment spectacles of early cinema history, the phone film privileges visual immediacy, urging genred and experimental presentations of limited narrative complexity. Notably, the thesis indicates that phone films incorporate technologically innovative aspects of autobiography by filmmakers. What are characterised as the ambulatory and movie selfie categories evidence contemporary representations of movement within phone filmmaking. By updating Walter Benjamin’s (1936) ideas of the flâneur, and Michel de Certeau’s (1984) writing about the physicality of walking, the thesis draws on the socio-cultural use of mobile technologies and physical, participatory engagement with the filmmaking process. Incorporating an ethnographic study of international cell cinema film festivals, the thesis interrogates phenomenological aspects of interrelated phenomena. I discuss how phone filmmakers, spectators and others experience their participation in the construction and dissemination of intercultural, shared discourse. Cell cinema’s cultural signifiers cross or subvert perceived geographical and economic boundaries, urging a reassessment of Western or Euro-centric philosophical traditions. The thesis investigates how cell cinema enables expressions of the self, delineates notions of identity, and communicates various aspects of socially determined meaning. Therefore, cell cinema engagement incorporates the sharing of gifts of phone films that foreground bodily movement and the ‘everyday aesthetic’ of the cell cinema gaze, involving the engagement with ‘knowledge communities’, and ‘culturalising events’ within festival environments.

29 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors discuss the discourse on documentary filmmaking and ethics and propose to include empirical data about filmmakers' experiences and opinions to help us understand what ethics truly inform documentary filmmaking.
Abstract: In the discourse on documentary filmmaking and ethics, scholars focus on the filmmaker–filmed relationship and relate many concepts to morality in documentary filmmaking. They additionally mention circumstances that may be relevant and they identify insufficiently meaningful solutions to such moral issues. However, they fail to reflect on ethical theories and how these inform filmmakers’ ideas about the right thing to do. In this article I discuss the discourse and how it can serve to further develop the debate on the ethics of documentary filmmaking. I propose to include empirical data about filmmakers’ experiences and opinions to help us understand what ethics truly inform documentary filmmaking.

28 citations

Cites background from "Philosophy of the Film : Epistemolo..."

  • ...Examples include Jarvie (1987), Light (2003), and Caroll and Choi (2006). DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING AND ETHICS 533...


  • ...Examples include Jarvie (1987), Light (2003), and Caroll and Choi (2006)....


  • ...This discourse focuses more on experiences during the development and 4Examples include Jarvie (1987), Light (2003), and Caroll and Choi (2006). production of documentary films, and because this is what I am interested in, it serves as the central theoretical discourse here....