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29 NOVEMBER 2012

Psychical Distance: characters and situations in drama are unreal

"One of the best known examples is to be found in our attitude towards the events and characters of the drama; they appeal to us like persons and incidents of normal experience, except that that side of their appeal, which would usually affect us in a directly personal manner, is held in abeyance. This difference, so well known as to be almost trivial, is generally explained by reference to the knowledge that the characters and situations are 'unreal,' imaginary. In this sense Witasek, oeprating with Meinong's theory of Annahem, has described the emotions involved in witnessing a drama as Scheingefuhle, a term which has so frequently been misunderstood in discussions of his theories. But, as a matter of fact, the 'assumption' upon which the imaginative emotional reaction is based is not necessarily the condition, but often the consequence, of distance; that is to say, the converse of the reason usually stated would then be true: viz. That distance, by changing our relation to the characters, renders them seemingly fictitious, not that the fictitiousness of the characters alters our feelings toward them. It is, of course, to be granted that the actual and admitted unreality of the dramatic action reinforces the effect of Distance. But surely the proverbial unsophisticated yokel whose chivalrous interference in the play on behalf of the hapless heroine can only be prevented by impressing upon him that 'they are only pretending,' is not the ideal type of theatrical audience. The proof of the seeming paradox that it is Distance which primarily gives to dramatic action the appearance of unreliability and not vice versa, is the observation that the same filtration of our sentiments and the same seeming 'unreality' of actual men and things occur, when at times, by a sudden change of inward perspective, we are overcome by the feeling that 'all the world's a stage.'"

(Edward Bullough, 1912)

Edward Bullough (1912). "Psychical Distance" British Journal of Psychology, Vol. 5, pp. 87–117 (excerpt cited by Julie Van Camp, 22 November 2006).

Fig.1 Patricia Piccinini/Drome Pty Ltd. (2010) [http://leecasey.carbonmade.com/projects/2594595#9]

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TAGS

1912aesthetics • Alexius Meinong • all the worlds a stage • Annahem • appeal • appearance of unreliability • audiencebelievabilitybreaking the fourth wallchanging our relationcharactersdirect experience • distance • distanced viewpointdrama • dramatic action • dramatic space • Edward Bullough • emotionemotional immersionemotional involvementempathyfeelings • fictitious • fictitiousnessheld in abeyanceimaginary • imaginative emotional reaction • normal experience • only pretending • our sentiments • pathospersonalpropinquitypsychical distancepsychological closeness • psychological proximity • Scheingefuhle • Stephan Witasek • suspension of disbelief • theatrical audience • unreal • unreal characters • unreal situations • unreality • verisimilitude • witnessing • yoke

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
11 MAY 2011

Sadie Benning's Fisher Price PXL-2000 confessions

"Eighteen–year–old Sadie Benning recorded thoughts and images, from 1989–92, of her nascent lesbianism with the help of a Fisher Price Pixelvision camera. Portrays the space of Sadie's bedroom, scrawled notes, and defiant expressions which mark her confessional, in–your–face style."

(Duke University Libraries)

Sadie Benning (1990). 'If Every Girl Had a Diary', video (black and white, sound), 8 min. Purchase. © 2011 Sadie Benning. Courtesy Video Data Bank

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TAGS

1990adolescent sexuality • audio cassette • authorship • B&W • black and whitecamerachronicle • coming out • confession • despair • diarydocumentary filmfeelingsfemale sexuality • Fischer-Price PXL-2000 camera • Fisher Price • gay and lesbian • gender • gender issues • girlidentity • If Every Girl Had a Diary • innocenceintimate livesisolationlesbian • lesbian identity • nascent sexuality • outpouringsoutsiderpersonal • pixelvision camera • queerqueer cinema • queer experience • queerness • revelatory • rough quality • Sadie Benning • self-shotssexual orientation • social prejudice • tapeteen • teenage • teenage diary • videoVideo Data Bank

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
25 FEBRUARY 2011

Wild Strawberries: falling backwards through memories

Ingmar "Bergman's restless mind wouldn't even leave him to rest during a brief hospital stay, which is where he wrote the script for one of his earliest forays into the nature of age, memory and self–reflection. The core of the film had come to him the previous year while driving through his old hometown of Uppsala, past his grandmother's house. His fertile imagination wondered how it might be if he could open the door and step back into his own childhood, and from this kernel grew Wild Strawberries. In Swedish the title of Smultronstället has deeper meaning than just referring to a wild strawberry patch, it has a colloquial sense of a place invested with personal or sentimental value, often undervalued until it returns to memory in a nostalgic fashion. Which is precisely what the lead character of Isak Borg experiences throughout the film, falling backwards through his memories, attempting to make sense of his life in his final years. It's not an unusual thing for a Bergman film to be filled with casual slips between reality and dreams/memories, or to be populated with characters whose role is to aid our protagonist on his/her internal quest, but the lead character is not what we might envision in Bergman's work. Isak Borg is not a cruel man, but his self–centred cynicism and rampant egotism set him apart from the majority of other Bergman leads. But he needs to be such a vaguely unlikable character for the audience to experience the full impact of his self–realisation, dragged through a series of memories and forced to confront his continuing failures and inadequacies. A loveable, upright character would not have been able to supply so much powerful redemption in the final reel."

(Craig Andrews, Media Resource Centre)

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TAGS

195735mmacross timechildhoodchronological timecircular narrative structuredreamfilmimaginationin the mindIngmar Bergmaninternal quest • Iris Cinema • Lund Universitymemory • Mercury Cinema • nostalgiapastpersonalself-realisationself-reflection • Smultronstallet • SwedishSwedish filmmaker • Uppsala • Wild Strawberries (1957)

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
17 FEBRUARY 2011

Martin Scorsese: ItalianAmerican

"After having made four well–received feature films, among them Mean Streets (1973), an uncompromising story of petty criminals in New York City's Little Italy, and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), the tale of a single mother's journey to self–sufficiency, Martin Scorsese stepped back briefly from his commercial film career to make a small, deeply personal documentary. Shot on 16mm film in the Manhattan apartment where he grew up, ItalianAmerican is the record of a conversation between Scorsese and his parents, Charles and Catherine. In three–quarters of an hour, the three manage to cover a great deal of ground, most notably the parents' experiences growing up in the rough–and–tumble New York tenements during the early years of the twentieth century. Scorsese's presentation of his parents is highly particularized and subtly nuanced, yet he also manages to make their words speak for the larger immigrant experience. When the setting shifts from the living room to the dining room and everyone sits down to dinner, the mood becomes looser and more animated, with Scorsese and his mother moving into the kitchen for a quick lesson on how to make tomato sauce–or 'gravy,' as Catherine (and an entire generation of Italian Americans) would call it. Throughout, the affection that the three Scorseses have for each other is palpable, as is the respect with which the son presents his parents' story. At the end, Catherine's recipe for her tomato sauce scrolls by on–screen, making ItalianAmerican not only a historical record, but also a family legacy."

(The Museum of Modern Art)

1974. USA. 35mm print, colour, sound, 49 min. Original 16mm materials on indefinite loan from the artist. Preserved in 35mm with funding from the Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Fund.

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TAGS

16mm1974authorship • Catherine Scorsese • Charles Scorsese • direct cinemadocumentary filmfilmimmigrantimmigrant experienceinterviewItalian • Italian American • Italianamerican (1974) • ManhattanMartin ScorseseNew Yorkpersonalpersonal filmrealismsocial historysocial realismsocial realitytruth

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
14 JUNE 2005

Data Art: Representing The Personal Subjective Experience?

"For me, the real challenge of data art is not about how to map some abstract and impersonal data into something meaningful and beautiful –– economists, graphic designers, and scientists are already doing this quite well. The more interesting and at the end maybe more important challenge is how to represent the personal subjective experience of a person living in a data society. If daily interaction with volumes of data and numerous messages is part of our new "data–subjectivity," how can we represent this experience in new ways? How new media can represent the ambiguity, the otherness, the multi–dimensionality of our experience[...]?"

(Lev Manovich)

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TAGS

ambiguityartdata art • data society • data-subjectivity • experienceLev Manovichothernesspersonal • subjective
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