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Perceiving the visual in cinema : semantic approaches to film form and meaning
Published inJyväskylä Studies in the Arts
The study examines the contents and co-ordination of perceptual, cognitive, stylistic and semantic elements of film form and meaning, understanding cinema as a medium of re-experience, of discovery and creation. It is a phenomenon in which meaning arises as a function of perceptual, emotional, and intellectual activity, in which the world is grasped as a dynamic presence. According to the study one can understand cinema's universe as a kind of microcosm, a world with its own order and logic but also a world with associations and connotations related to its viewing process. One can speak of cinematic semantics, with which one can understand the exploration of cinematic meanings concentrating on specific cinematic things such as exploring the meanings of moving images, succession, montage-combinations and camera-effects. According to the study a film shot is a descriptive unit more than a narrative one because narratives are made up of descriptions and a narrative is a subtype of description. Cinema is a performance art like theatre, but cinema is also a pictorial art, and pictorial signs are iconic in one respect and arbitrary in every other. In cinema montage is thinking through images because cinema is the only form of art which is a succession of images in the same space. Cinema "syntax" in itself is a creative force, because it makes possible the formation of a large number of film phrases and requires audience participation. The concept of orchestration plays an important part in the formulation of a cinematic master plan. The functions of orchestration are related to those of editing because, in a way, the writing of a script also starts the editing process: it deals with the thinking through images and an image is always a mixture of various elements with many things happening simultaneously. Orchestration is some kind of superstructure, which refers to the elements of the cinema and has to do with the quality of the film. According to the gestaltpsychologist way of perception the meaning of the stimulus is to function as an interface between two kinds of texts, the one being the object itself and the second being the spectator's mind, which alone contains the meaning that it associates with the text's otherwise empty signifiers. The meaning in cinema's visual perception is constructed in the mind. Visual considerations carry relatively more weight in the structure of cinema than it seems, yet they are hard to describe and assess. In short, if we are to understand how the visual qualities of the cinema work, we evidently need a different sort of critical and theoretical approach than what is usually practiced. The study contains analyses of different kinds of films. Fritz Lang's M is an example of a synthetic film form condensing many present tendencies. It is structured around a rigorous organization of the film's formal articulations. In Un Chien Andalou Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali are exploring and using conscious irrationality to facilitate finer and deeper meanings. The bewilderment results from how flexibly and routinelike the spectator's thinking recognizes the film's contradictions and symbolic impossibilities. Maya Deren's film Meshes of the Afternoon is an example of modernist fragmentation and the pluralization of subjectivity, identity and the denial of unitary consciousness. Busby Berkeley's dance numbers give possibilities for the abstract and constructive tendencies of high culture to approach the populist level. They contain a flux of ideas, in a criss-cross of semantic operations. ...
Berkeley, Busby. Buñuel, Luis, Deren, Maya. Lang, Fritz, Meshes of the afternoon (elokuva : 1943) Un chien andalou (elokuva : 1929) M - eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder (elokuva : 1931) analyysimenetelmät elokuvailmaisu elokuvaohjaajat kuvallinen ilmaisu merkitykset (semantiikka) muoto semantiikka surrealismi taidefilosofia tulkinta visuaalisuus visualisointi Motion pictures
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