Conceptualising practice-as-research in media through cross‐disciplinary approaches to audience reception

Brylla, Catalin ORCID: (2013) Conceptualising practice-as-research in media through cross‐disciplinary approaches to audience reception. In: Theorising Practice, Practicing Theory, 23 Apr 2013, University of Roehampton, UK.

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Based on my multiple positions as documentary film practitioner, lecturer and scholar, I have been pursuing the goal to create malleable blueprints for media practitioners to conceive and theorise over their work of art, resulting in a fertile symbiosis between artistic and academic endeavours; a symbiosis that triggers and maintains a perpetual process where the making (practice) results in contemplation (theory), which prompts further making and further contemplation. However, one major obstacle to this practice-as-research process is what Breitrose (2002) identifies as abstract film theories that are “toxic” to the practitioner. Urging a shift from ontology to epistemology, he proposes filmmakers should embrace theories that examine the impact on the audience, such as cognitive film theory.

I have adopted this principle for my film practice and resulting scholarly research, culminating in my current PhD by Documentary Practice. The doctoral thesis explores the cinematic representation of blindness and subjectivity. Focusing on blind artists, the aim is to transpose the way they perceive themselves and their environment into an equivalent (not identical) audience experience. Thus, the methodology aims to propose cinematic representations that are informed by audience reception theories, in particular cognitive theory and phenomenology. Examples of cognitive theories include Murray Smith’s “character identification” model that theorises the conveyance of identity and subjectivity (1995) on-screen, and Greg M. Smith’s “mood-cue approach” that explains the link between stylistic cues and emotion in film (2003). On the other hand, phenomenologists, like Maurice Merleau-Ponty, offer valuable reflections on the difference between “embodied space” and “physical space” (1945), which can be efficiently adapted to the filmic representation of space in relation to characters.

Furthermore, the documentary will focus on the subjects’ everyday rituals that constitute their way of being in this world (de Certeau, 1984). Thus, the narrative and visual emphasis will be on their interaction with the physical space around them, as well as the importance of objects such as artefacts, in which they invest emotion and feelings (Baudrillard, 1996), and which serve as an “aide-memoir” – a catalyst for their personal oral history. Anthropologist Daniel Miller considers this attention to materiality as the most efficient way to understand and convey human subjectivity (2010).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Film and television
Depositing User: Catalin Brylla
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2016 21:22
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:19

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