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The looking machineEssays on cinema, anthropology and documentary filmmaking$
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David MacDougall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526134097

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526134097.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

The third tendency in cinema

The third tendency in cinema

(p.65) 5 The third tendency in cinema
The looking machine

David MacDougall

Manchester University Press

This chapter traces the way in which films have evolved from portraying scenes to be ‘looked at’ to strategies of making the viewer feel present within the film, to films in which the sensory world is more fully evoked and embodied. The last tendency is apparent in the composition of images and the editing dynamics of silent Soviet cinema, but it later emerged in attempts to evoke a broader range of sensations involving touch, taste, and smell. In some films the presence of the human subject is often felt in ways that seem to transcend conventional ideas of representation, as in some of the films of Bresson, Tarkovsky, and Bergman. The reasons may be found in terms of ‘tactile space’ and ‘close-range’ vision as well as in a kind of shared proprioception, recently corroborated by findings in cognitive science. Such impressions may also be experienced by filmmakers in the act of filming and then be communicated in tacit ways to the viewer. Visual anthropology has been influenced by these moves through recent films attempting to create a sensory ethnography. This ‘sensory turn’ suggests the possibility of a cinema of consciousness that more fully reflects our experiences of everyday life.

Keywords:   cinema, film history, the senses, embodiment, consciousness, ethnography

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