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Ais - Guest Lecture Prof. Jennifer Barker: “The Phenomenology of Childhood and Cinematic Time”

When:Tu 06-03-2018 18:30 - 20:00
Where:Marie Loke Zaal (Harmony Building)

In his seminal study The Structures of the Film Experience: Filmic Identification (1969), recently for the first time translated into English by Daniel Fairfax, Belgian psychologist Jean-Pierre Meunier makes an interesting point in passing. It is “quite evident that a home movie generally solicits a home movie attitude, and that a fiction film demands that we comprehend it as a fiction,” he writes, “but this is not necessarily always the case.” We could take a fictional character to be real, he argues, and we could take a documentary subject not to be. “It is probable that such phenomena take place,” he writes, “and that the consciousness of the child can teach us a lot on this subject. But this is not our concern.“ From there, he announces that we must “shift our focus to an essential characteristic of the objective matter of the film: movement.”  This paper takes up the consciousness of the child, not as a “deviation,” as Meunier describes it, but as a means of thinking through movement itself. Drawing on developmental psychologist and psychoanalytic theorist Daniel Stern’s concept of certain “forms of vitality” and related research in developmental psychology regarding infants’ perception of the world and other people not only in motion but as motion, this paper suggests that close attention to the temporal structures of early childhood perception may shed light on the temporal structures of adult spectatorship and, more broadly, on the ways these temporal structures inform the viewer’s sense of self, other, image, and world.

Jennifer M. Barker, one of the leading scholars in the phenomenology of film, is co-Director of Graduate Studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She is the author of the widely read The Tactile Eye: Touch and the Cinematic Experience (University of California Press, 2009). She did her undergraduate work in film studies at the University of Iowa and earned her MA and PhD at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television. Her research interests include theories of spectatorship and embodiment, moving image aesthetics, the senses and synaesthesia, performance, and documentary. She is currently at work on her second manuscript, Synaesthetic Cinema, an interdisciplinary project that will be the first book-length study of synaesthesia informed by and focused on cinema and moving-image theory.