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Neurocinematics: The Neuroscience of Film

"This article describes a new method for assessing the effect of a given film on viewers' brain activity. Brain activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during free viewing of films, and inter–subject correlation analysis (ISC) was used to assess similarities in the spatiotemporal responses across viewers' brains during movie watching. Our results demonstrate that some films can exert considerable control over brain activity and eye movements. However, this was not the case for all types of motion picture sequences, and the level of control over viewers' brain activity differed as a function of movie content, editing, and directing style. We propose that ISC may be useful to film studies by providing a quantitative neuroscientific assessment of the impact of different styles of filmmaking on viewers' brains, and a valuable method for the film industry to better assess its products. Finally, we suggest that this method brings together two separate and largely unrelated disciplines, cognitive neuroscience and film studies, and may open the way for a new interdisciplinary field of 'neurocinematic' studies."

(Uri Hasson, Ohad Landesman et al.)

Hasson, U., Landesman, O., Knappmeyer, B., Vallines, I., Rubin, N. and Heeger, D. (2008), Neurocinematics: The neuroscience of films. Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind 2, 1–26.


Barbara Knappmeyer • brain • brain activity • cognitive control • cognitive film theory • cognitive neuroscience • computational neuroscience • David J. Heeger • directing style • eye movement • eye-trackingfilm editingfilm industryfilm studies • film viewing • fMRI • functional magnetic resonance imaging • Ignacio Vallines • inter-subject correlation • inter-subject correlation analysis • interdisciplinary field • ISC • motion picture sequences • movie content • movie watching • Nava Rubin • neurocinematic studiesneurocinematicsneuroscience • neuroscience and film • neuroscience of film • Ohad Landesman • perception • Projections (journal) • psychophysics • quantitative neuroscientific assessment • similarities • social neuroscience • spatiotemporal responses • styles of filmmaking • Uri Hasson • viewerviewingvisionvisual perception


Simon Perkins
11 NOVEMBER 2011

The Greeting is a film which pretends to be a painting

Bill "Viola's The Greeting is pretending to be a picture, hanging on the wall of the National Gallery, as part of 'The Passions' exhibition in 2003. The context of the gallery space and the badging of The Greeting as a picture give the work something different, making it more than just a film. The significance is in the context of where it is shown and the pretence occurring that this is a picture. Indeed, when walking downstairs in the National Gallery towards 'The Passions' exhibition, it is seeing it hanging on the wall that strikes immediately; I am being invited to believe that this animated film is pretending to be a picture. The analogy is of the picture becoming an actor, pretending to be something else. In terms of form, The Greeting is a film. Therefore, what is it that makes it now defined as an exhibition, a part of Viola's 'The Passions' in 2003? It is only the fact that it's part of a gallery that makes it an exhibition, although in reality it is also actors directed by a video artist into this film, slowed down and with no sound, which is pretending to be a painting. Therefore, it is conceptual art, in that what the artist is doing is not just making a painting, or having the idea for a painting, but having the idea of where it should be staged. The inscribed text of the space in which it is viewed makes a difference to what the viewer or spectator sees, and what is going on."

(Alison Oddey, 2007, p.70)

3). Alison Oddey (2007). "Re–Framing". In: "Re–Framing the Theatrical", Palgrave Macmillan. 1–21.

Fig.1 Bill Viola (1995). "The Greeting".
Fig.2 Jacopo Carucci da Pontormo "The Visitation".



2003actorsallusionart historyartistartistic experience • Bill Viola • conceptual artcontextexhibitionfigurationfilmgallery • gallery space • hanging on the wall • homage • inscribed text of the space • interdisciplinaryliving picturesmetatheatricalityNational Gallerypainting • Passions (exhibition) • performancepicturepretence • pretending • pretending to be a painting • re-framing • reenactmentreflexive foregroundingremediationspacespectatorspectatorship • staged • stagingtableau vivant • The Greeting • The Passions • the role of the spectator • the viewer • theatre-art • theatricaltime slowed downvideo artvideo artistviewer


Simon Perkins

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