Moments in space, spaces in time: phenomenology and the embodied depth of cinematic image
This study discusses the perception of depth in film, focusing upon how the spectator perceives cinematic spatiality. Pointing to recent examples, new cinematic technologies are shown to mandate new theoretical paradigms in accounting for a developing spatial logic. Contrary to Lacanian, Neo-Formalist, and postmodern paradigms, which posit the film as superficial and passively perceived, the work presents the spectator as an active body engaged with an image that is perceptually deep. Drawing upon the perceptual phenomenology of Edmund Husserl, Michel de Certeau, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, each chapter analyzes films that posit the human body as the zero-point of spatiality, such that depth is related to the spectator's embodied perception. The dissertation concludes by discussing the relation between space and time in comprehending depth, arguing for a Gestalt-oriented film paradigm.In Chapter Two, Peter Greenaway's films initiate a discussion of the difference between place and space; space and depth are recognized as relying upon the activity of human bodies. Greenaway's films illustrate the conflict between order and chaos; his films' static structures reveal themselves only through the action of character and camera. Chapter Three discusses the zero-point in connection to questions of reality and depth, discussing The Blair Witch Project (1999) for its use of hand-held camera before analyzing The Matrix (1999) and Fight Club (1999) for their ability to place the spectator within a central spatial position via digital image manipulation. Chapter Four looks at the Dogme 95 films for their claims of authenticity; analyzing the Manifesto and Vow of Chastity for their assumptions regarding film and the technological mediation of perception. Drawing upon Don Ihde's concept of instrumental realism, the films are shown to posit the spectator as an active participant in the comprehension of a mediated and yet deep moment. Chapter Five takes up the issue of time, discussing Pulp Fiction (1994), Go (1999), Run Lola Run (1999), and Time Code (2000) as spatio-temporal gestalts reliant upon a deep image for their narrative logic. While this dissertation focuses upon recent films, it concludes by pointing to the arguments' theoretical implications regarding perception and cinematic experience.