Film-Philosophy

Journal | Salon | Portal (ISSN 1466-4615)

Vol. 6 No. 32, October 2002

 

 

Melanie Swalwell

 

The Senses and Memory in Intercultural Cinema

 

 

 

Laura U. Marks

_The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses_

Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000

ISBN 0-8223-2391-5

298 pp.

 

'Often the sensorium is the only place where cultural memories are preserved' (195).

 

Laura Marks's book, _The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses_ is a study of intercultural film and video works, approached by way of the senses and the representation of memory in these works. The book is concerned with a range of aesthetic, cultural, and ethical questions raised by intercultural films, as well as with the implications of these concerns for theorising film and embodied spectatorship. Identifying what she designates as a 'movement' in intercultural cinema -- a powerful phenomenon whose most recent emergence, according to the author, was between 1985 and 1995 -- Marks seeks both to celebrate these works, many of which are quite ephemeral, 'at the moment of their brief flowering' (2), and to develop and offer a theory of representation that she hopes might be appropriate to many other kinds of cinema.

 

Given these dual roles, and that many of the intercultural films Marks discusses are concerned with experiences of diaspora or loss of cultural identity, with a number explicitly critiquing a range of colonial and ethnographic gazes, it is appropriate to begin by mentioning how Marks situates the works she studies. In the Preface she states that, 'what pulls this writing most forcefully is the films and videos themselves. The works I examine in this book are themselves works of theory, many explicitly so. They are not waiting to have theory 'done to' them; they are not illustrations of theory but theoretical essays in their own right' (xiv). That Marks says the films exert a 'pull' on her writing strikes me as both significant and appropriate: the theory of mimetic spectatorship (as well as the opening to sense knowledge) that she elaborates rests upon a kind of yielding knowing rather than a *killing into* knowledge (193). Appropriately then, Marks's *engagement* with (as distinct from analysis or critique of) the films and videos is a dynamic and interactive process, evident in the arguments which unfold over the course of the volume. Not only did the works *pull* at the writing, but Marks writes that she was inspired by them: indeed, that 'catch[ing] up verbally with arguments that these works have developed in audio-visual (as well as verbal) form' (xv) provided one of the reasons for writing the book.

 

Intercultural films and videos are often low budget, experimental works which, Marks argues, represent the cultural memories and sensoria of their makers. While mindful of its difficulties (6-8), she elects to use the term intercultural, to refer to the international phenomenon where 'people of different cultural backgrounds live together in the power-inflected spaces of diaspora, (post- or neo-) colonialism, and cultural apartheid' (1). In many cases, Marks claims, filmmakers' intercultural experience and status provides subject matter for the films produced; however, a significant number of the films discussed also incorporate meditations on perception and the differences in sensing that intercultural experience makes evident. As the author writes:

 

'intercultural experience is violent at the level of the body, for the recent immigrant must choose whether to keep his or her bodily habits, at the cost of being considered primitive or exotic, or to shed them, at the cost of shedding the memory these habits encode. This hard (and not necessarily conscious) decision underlies the ambivalence toward sensory traditions characteristic of much intercultural cinema' (209).

 

Marks argues that the experience of being inbetween cultures, as well as the ambivalence of many filmmakers towards the media technologies that have often been used to reduce complex experience (215), accounts for the formal experimentation evident in many works, which utilise a range of techniques to evoke that which is not, or cannot be, represented (43).

 

The book is clearly an interdisciplinary foray, drawing on a range of approaches including film theory, postcolonial theory, art history, anthropology, and phenomenology, an array of approaches that the author combines in novel ways, often producing stunning and unorthodox readings. Marks explains her concepts and how she is using them, and provides lucid descriptions of films under discussion, an important consideration given the limited circulation of many of the works. The book's syntheses and commentaries will be of interest to many: Marks undertakes at times broad-ranging surveys of theorists, combining them in ways that are both provocative and productive. Gilles Deleuze, Henri Bergson, and Walter Benjamin -- figuring prominently in the text as they do -- all receive this treatment. Deleuze figures for his writings on cinema as well as for the discussion (with Guattari) in _A Thousand Plateaus_ of optical and haptic space in relation to nomad art, Bergson for his work on memory and the senses (and as a basis for much of Deleuze's work), and Benjamin for his work on the mimetic faculty and aura, as well as for his engagement with Bergson.

 

As far as film theory is concerned, Marks acknowledges that her study departs from many of the ways film is often studied and written about, as she seeks to move beyond the limitations of some existing approaches to film. Nevertheless, there are continuities with a number of traditions: for instance, she draws the term haptic cinema from Noel Burch's work (171), and, as Deleuzian cinematic philosophy is not a theory of spectatorship (150), Marks relies on Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology together with 'recent returns to phenomenology' (152) (the influence of Vivian Sobchack's work is evident). Finally, Marks acknowledges certain continuities between her work and the early cinema phenomenon of a 'cinema of attractions', given its interest in embodied response (170).

 

The study's breadth is certainly one of its strengths. This breadth also presents something of a challenge for a reviewer: given the number of different arguments and perspectives, the question of how to do justice to the work's complexity and inter-woven arguments is a real issue. In this I take my cue from Marks's stated preparedness to be productively pulled off course, encouragement for which she finds in Deleuze and Guattari's writing (xiv). Therefore, this review will focus on Mark's arguments on the senses in the context of intercultural film, attempting to tease out some of the philosophical contributions of this aspect of her scholarship, areas which coincide with my own research interests.

 

Marks sees her particular challenge as being 'to suggest how film and video, which are audiovisual media, can represent nonaudiovisual sense experiences' (2). In this she is concerned with (cinematic) perception as multisensory, an approach which is remarkable both within film and sensory scholarship. For instance, while film's status as an audiovisual medium is readily acknowledged, the visual has often tended to receive the lion's share of critical attention. Though cinesonics are increasingly being studied and theorised (as the conference series of that name suggests), [1] there are still risks attached to the single sense approaches, not least of which is their susceptibility to questions like 'which one comes first?', or 'which one is more important?', especially when faced with multisensory experiences or media. Though these questions have been characteristic of much discourse on the senses to date, the tendency to focus on single senses is limited. Another common claim circulating at present about the senses is that a particular product will stimulate *all your senses*, as if automatically. Marks's multisensory account of spectatorship is considerably more nuanced than these approaches.

 

Marks accords the senses and aesthetics a significant role in perception, meaning making, and memory. Her concern with the senses extends over a number of related aspects, which it is perhaps helpful to delineate. Her project addresses: the enculturation of the senses, and relatedly, how sense memories are laid down; how such memories are encoded within film by intercultural filmmakers, an enterprise which frequently takes them to the limits of representation; and how the audiovisual act of seeing a film can '[call] up multisensory experience' for the cinema audience (130).

 

In Chapter One, Marks defines intercultural cinema as operating at the intersection of two or more cultural regimes of knowledge. The concerns of this cinema, she suggests, fit within the general shift that Deleuze describes from movement-image to time-image cinema. In particular, his notion of 'any-spaces-whatever' is useful: 'I would argue that these 'any-spaces-whatever' are not simply the disjunctive spaces of postmodernism, but also the disruptive spaces of postcolonialism, where non-Western cultures erupt into Western metropolises, and repressed cultural memories return to destabilize national histories' (27). Marks provides a number of examples of how intercultural cinema expresses the disjunction between orders of knowledge, such as official history and private memory, unrepresentable memories or a lack of access to archived images. For example, in the video _History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige_ by Rea Tajiri, an attempt to reconstruct Tajiri's Japanese-American family's memory of their internment during the Second World War, the artist uses a combination of text scrolling over an aerial view (representing the spirit of the artist's dead grandfather), voiceovers, and a visual image with personal meaning (a woman filling a canteen with water). For Marks, the significance of this is that while official images exist of the internment camps, these cannot act as memory vehicles for Tajiri's family: in the absence of such images, she writes, 'archaeology must be done in order to create images' (33).

 

In other examples discussed: filmmakers use drawn images rather than photographic or film footage of the site of an assassination (Raoul Peck's _Lumumba: The Death of a Prophet_), screens of Arabic script over the top of images (_Measures of Distance_ by Mona Hatoum), or partial translations of dialogue (_Siskyavi: The Place of Chasms_, by Victor Masayesva Jr). A number of works use discontinuous configurations of sound, image, and text to destabilise meaning, with some inserting black leader tape, refusing to show what is being described on the soundtrack. At times, Marks notes, a sceptical approach on the part of the audience is warranted and indeed encouraged, such as in Black Audio Film Collective's _Who Needs A Heart?_, which eschews documentary in favour of docudrama. 'All these images are quite slight and 'meaningless' in themselves, but they call up volumes of images that are not or cannot be represented' (43). As she writes later: 'The works strive to recover sensuous geographies distant in space and time, sense memories faintly present in the body itself. If they do manage to recover these precious knowledges, they may use screens and ruses to protect them from casual consumption' (230). As well as introducing an uncertainty or ambivalence to the stories being told, these techniques also serve to frustrate a purely instrumental vision. They cannot be mastered through vision alone.

 

A range of circumstances is considered in which images partially connect, or fail to connect, with memories, with Marks developing concepts from Deleuze (and Bergson) to help with this, among which the optical-image and recollection-image are prominent. Recollection-images are, she argues, particularly important for the representation of memory and history in intercultural film. While they do not themselves represent an event, recollection-images embody the traces of an event whose representation has been buried. She writes: 'Through attentive recognition, [a recollection-image] may provoke an imaginative reconstruction, such as a flashback, that pulls it back into understandable causal relationships' (50). And: 'Like those dry paper flowers that expand in water, a recollection-image, moistened with memory, springs to life. Intercultural works redeem these stranded images by bringing them into the very present, even into the body of the viewer' (53).

 

The concern with the recollection-image extends into the next chapter, where Marks considers the power that objects have to evoke memory (what she terms the 'recollection-object'), the way that personal objects 'remember and attest to events that people have forgotten' (107). Marks suggests that fetishisation of objects in colonial contexts functions to preserve a controlling distance from that culture. In redeeming fetishised objects 'by finding values in them that are unrecognized in the colonial context' (79), postcolonial cinema often reflects on the ways that objects are taken up and circulated, and how their meanings change with varying contexts. Of the many possibilities surveyed for recoding, that of 'propos[ing] a nonfetishizing form of looking, one that invites the 'viewer' to experience the object not so much visually as through a bodily contact' (79) prepares us for the tactile epistemology that is elaborated in Chapters Three and Four.

 

Marks's deployment of Deleuze in these chapters, in conjunction with postcolonial and phenomenological concerns, is certainly provocative and may be controversial. While other readers will be in a better position to comment on the particular readings she makes of Deleuze, I can say that Marks's use of Deleuze moves the analysis beyond purely literal notions of representation and affective responses to images. Otherwise, the very notion of *representing memory* would seem to rely on the intent and will of filmmakers and audiences, and be vulnerable to charges of voluntarism. In the current context where popular representations frequently portray sensory affects as the automatic outcome of purchasing experiences (including in some filmic contexts), this is an important contribution.

 

Also of interest in Chapter Two is the discussion of the silk sari which features in Shauna Beharry's film _Seeing is Believing_, a work which Marks returns to frequently. The sari belonged to Beharry's mother, and after discussing the sari's significance as an object which transmits tactile knowledge between mother and daughter, Marks segues into a very interesting discussion of Beharry's performance, 'Ashes to Flowers: The Breathing'. Discussing this performance enables Marks to reflect on the meeting of different sensory knowledges and culturally specific sensoria, providing in turn for reflection on the importance of attending to the *enculturation* of the senses. To quote Marks at length:

 

''Sensual abandon' is a phrase of Enlightenment subjectivity, implying that the senses (except maybe vision, and possibly hearing) dull the powers of the intellect. It implies that the Orientalist desire for the sense experience of other cultures is in part a desire to stop thinking, as though sensory knowledge is radically opposed to intellectual knowledge. But when, in 'Ashes to Flowers', Beharry lights incense, washes our hands with rose water, and encourages us to dance, she is not encouraging us to 'abandon' ourselves to our bodies but to respect our bodies' capacities for knowledge. This is a knowledge that requires just as much effort to acquire as intellectual knowledge. The 'Oriental' trip she gives us is not an opportunity to breathe in the smells and let it all hang out but a time to do a particular sort of work where bodies and minds work together. This appeal to olfactory, tactile, and other nonvisual bodily knowledges makes many participants uncomfortable, since these knowledges are little valued or cultivated in modern Western contexts, even in the art world. Even if we respect them, we may not know how to make sense of them. In short, stirring up the hierarchy of the senses is not a chance to play dumb: in fact it's quite exhausting' (118-19).

 

This passage sparks off a number of ideas for me. The discomfort of participants in the above quote makes clear their encounter with difference, with a sensorium that has been enculturated differently. Never just receptors, the senses are trained and organised in culturally specific ways, which is one factor that makes sensory perception *interested* rather than neutral. Indeed, Chapter Four usefully discusses different cultural configurations of the senses (a discussion which I feel might have been better situated earlier in the book, given that many of Marks's arguments rely on this point). Nevertheless, the emphasis on sensory enculturation here has important implications for how we think about phenomenology. Phenomenology has of course been criticised for according the conscious subject primacy. Attending to the differential training of the senses across cultures provides, then, an important corrective to phenomenology's privileging of conscious perception, and of a prior, perceiving subject, given that the senses play a pivotal role in perception. Also, aesthetic experiences like the ''Oriental' trip' described by Marks, clearly make it difficult to maintain distinctions between body and mind. [2] Embodied sensory experience cannot be kept separate from cognition; rather, aesthetic factors affect perception and cognition. [3] The refusal of dichotomous modes of thought is further evident in Marks's description of haptic visuality as a mutually constitutive vision: rather than a distancing vision that is based on separation between subject and object, the subject's relationship with the image is dynamic and responsive.

 

The notion of aesthetic or sensory responsiveness is one which figures prominently in Marks's account of haptic visuality, which she develops most fully in Chapter Three, and for this reader, at least, this is where _The Skin of the Film_ really hits its stride. This is no reflection on Marks's writing, which is clear and assured throughout; rather, it's that her argument on haptic visuality seems to me to be the strongest. Marks discusses an image from Beharry's film _Seeing Is Believing_ as an illustration of one sort of haptic look. The scene in question features a photograph of the artist, wearing her mother's sari. The movement of the camera is described as caressing the surface of this photograph, searching it, as Beharry relates in the voiceover how she was unable to recognise herself in photographs after her mother's death. While the rest of Marks's reading of this image is also very interesting, the caressing camera movement exemplifies what she means by a haptic vision. The over-close camera means that the image is not in focus: 'the camera [looks] ever more closely . . . [at the] folds of silk as they dissolve into grain and resolve again' (127). Marks writes that 'the tape has been using my vision as though it were a sense of touch; I have been brushing the (image of the) fabric with the skin of my eyes, rather than looking at it' (127).

 

Marks's arguments on the tactile in vision are made through recourse to mimeticism. She draws on a wide range of writings on mimesis, negotiating between the theories of Benjamin, Susan Buck-Morss, Roger Caillois, Michael Taussig, Alois Riegl, as well as Deleuze and Guattari. Her skilful negotiation of these positions is evident in her consideration of Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, 'Frankfurt School critics [who] valued sensuous knowledge as a reservoir of nonalienated experience . . . Mimesis, they argued, is a form of yielding to one's environment, rather than dominating it, and thus offers a radical alternative to the controlling distance from the environment so well served by vision' (140). Returning to comment on this a couple of pages later, after discussing Susan Buck-Morss's and Michael Taussig's contributions to these debates, Marks observes:

 

'One might argue that [these arguments] hint of a sort of prelapsarian longing. However, I believe that these theorists are borrowing from other cultures and ages in order to 'think at the edge of what can be thought', to create a new language for a mimetic knowledge that exists in a nascent and latent form in the contemporary West.' (143-44)

 

Nevertheless, she differentiates her approach, claiming that: 'It is possible to take up theories of tactile epistemology without adopting the dire diagnoses of complete cultural alienation on which these scholars' arguments rest' (144).

 

Haptic films or videos, then:

 

'invite a look that moves over the surface plane of the screen for some time before the viewer realizes what she or he is beholding. Such images resolve into figuration only gradually, if at all. Conversely, a haptic work may create an image of such detail, sometimes through miniaturism, that it evades a distanced view, instead pulling the viewer in close. Such images offer such a proliferation of figures that the viewer perceives the texture as much as the objects imaged.' (163)

 

A distinction is made between haptic images and haptic visuality, as Marks continues:

 

'While optical perception privileges the representational power of the image, haptic perception privileges the material presence of the image. Drawing from other forms of sense experience, primarily touch and kinesthetics, haptic visuality involves the body more than is the case with optical visuality' (163).

 

Haptic visuality is a way of seeing images which references the viewer's inclination to perceive them (162). Indeed, in haptic cinema, a bodily relationship is encouraged between the viewer and the image. In a phrase of Erich Auerbach's that Marks cites and that strongly resonates with me, mimesis involves a 'lively and responsive relationship' between (in this case) audience and film (138). The cinematic encounter acquires an ethical, as well as an erotic tinge here, as the implications for relating with others are considered. Haptic visuality is compared to an 'intersubjective eroticism' in which 'I and the object of my vision constitute each other. By interacting up close with an image, close enough that figure and ground commingle, the viewer relinquishes her own sense of separateness from the image -- not to know it, but to give herself up to her desire for it' (183). Later, Marks formulates this as follows: 'some works experiment with a visual erotic: one that offers its object to the viewer but only on the condition that its unknowability remain intact' (193).

 

Of course these questions of responsiveness and alterity have a particular resonance in postcolonial and other intercultural contexts. Readers are told that haptic images are often used in intercultural cinema to critique visual mastery, as well as in the search for ways to bring the image closer to the body and the other senses (152-3). But while Marks contrasts optical visuality with haptic visuality to make the point, she acknowledges that her project 'is not to condemn all vision as bent on mastery, nor indeed to condemn all mastery, but to open up visuality along the continua of the distant and the embodied, and the optical and the haptic' (132). Later, she writes: 'In most processes of seeing, both are involved, it is hard to look closely at a lover's skin with optical vision; it is hard to drive a car with haptic vision.' (163) Given that migrants or indigenous peoples have so often been subjected to, and objectified by, the colonial or ethnographic or touristic gaze, fixed as Other, the goal to 'reconsider the now-common critique of visuality as bent on mastery' (191), *through* the study of intercultural cinema is quite poignant. Yet the decision to look to intercultural cinema as 'one of the most important sites on non-mastering visuality' (193), has yielded significant results, particularly in terms of the discussion of a range of other representational and spectatorial possibilities.

 

Marks's notion of haptic visuality as a *non-instrumental* way of seeing is important for visual theory as well as for work on the senses more broadly. A desire to recuperate vision from its many critiques is evident here, as when Marks writes 'the exploration of haptic visuality permits us to reconsider the now-common critique of visuality as bent on mastery. Evidently this critique need not be extended to all forms of vision' (191). Having observed the recent proliferation of highly instrumental discourses on maximising and accruing intense sensory experiences, it is encouraging to see someone questioning the stability of the nexus between instrumentality and sentience.

 

Chapter Three also addresses questions of how audiences experience intercultural films. In appreciation of difference in sensory regimes, Marks notes that 'intercultural works are tailor-made only for a very few people' (21), and that these sensory experiences 'are differently available to viewers depending on their own sensoria' (23).

 

'Spectatorship is thus an act of sensory translation of cultural knowledge. For example, when a work is viewed in a cultural context different from that in which it was produced, viewers may miss some multisensory images: many viewers will miss the implications of references to cooking, dance, and hairstyle in Julie Dash's _Daughters of the Dust_ (1992) that are more likely to be clear to an African diasporan viewer . . . And then again, viewers in the intercultural encounter may discover sense information that was not obvious in the original context' (153).

 

This treatment of audience response as contingent on a range of factors is a welcome change from the proscription of affect in stimulus-response conceptions of sentience. Marks acknowledges that many factors come into play in viewing (especially) intercultural works, including the viewer's individual and cultural learning and predisposition (170). In the fourth chapter Marks reiterates this point, discussing some anthropological accounts of the senses, which she reads as primitivist and exoticising of non-Western cultures. Chapter Four also extends some of the principles of a tactile epistemology to inter-sensory references involving other senses, such as smell and taste: 'In some cases, documentary appeals to what escapes the visual altogether but can be known, for example, through the sense of touch, or of smell' (194).

 

Marks writes in Chapter Four of her belief that there is a gradual movement underway to more mimetic technologies, which she characterises as 'technologies that call upon, or attempt to recreate, our pre-existing sensuous relationship to the world' (215). This is a significant argument and one for which earlier chapters have prepared the ground. Nevertheless, I have some concerns about the way this is conceived. I have already noted Marks's criticism of accounts evidencing a 'prelapsarian longing', for a time before the 'alienation' of the senses. I query whether this argument does not also have a tinge of longing about it; what exactly does this sensuous relationship to the world *pre-exist*? While Marks has otherwise critiqued desires to return to a more 'authentic' past, and addresses what she neatly terms 'sense envy' (239), this point is not clear to me and could do with some clarification. Perhaps Marks is building on her earlier comparisons of optical and haptic visualities, implying that through sensory training in visual cultures, we *unlearn* how to be in a more reciprocal, responsive relationship with the world.

 

On a related point, Marks draws on Paul Rodaway's work on 'sensuous geographies', writing on the difference Rodaway captures 'between the rich environment of ambient sound typical of rural life, and the packaged, often electronically reproduced sounds of urban environments' (244). The decorative and warning sounds of the city -- muzak, sirens, alarms -- are described as reassuring, yet as mak[ing] for 'a thin and instrumental auditory relationship to the world' (244). These comments rub with earlier ones: that a viewer's -- or in this case, auditor's -- individual and cultural learning and predisposition are factors in *how* they might experience a particular work, for instance. Surely, as Marks argues regarding the visual, the question of whether city sounds merely make for a 'thin and instrumental' auditory relationship to the world or for something more engaged and mimetic, it all depends? There is a degree of slippage with respect to instrumentality and sensation which I suggest is important to attend to here, given that what is experienced or intended as instrumental on one day or even at one moment can quite easily become something else. [4] It is possible -- as Marks's labelling of car alarm sirens as reassuring suggests -- to enjoy a chance city symphony of noise. Other factors, such as unfamiliarity, also mitigate against a 'thin' auditory relationship. For instance, I recall emerging from a subway station while travelling a couple of years ago and finding myself in the middle of what was at that time one of the busiest building sites in the world -- Potsdamer Platz, in Berlin -- amid the sounds of every conceivable piece of building machinery. It was an exciting, and intensely visceral experience, not one that I would characterise as either thin or instrumental. (Of course, encountering similar sounds on a regular basis -- outside one's home, for instance -- is more likely to be annoying than exciting.) While I don't think Marks intends to, the association that she makes here, between the technologically produced sounds of the city and a 'thin and instrumental' auditory relationship, falls into a well-worn groove whereby technology is linked with sensory impoverishment. While this is a common perception, it is not an adequate explanation for what is a more complex dynamic, as Marks has elsewhere shown.

 

_The Skin of the Film_ is a rich and rewarding read. Marks's hope is that the theory of representation that emerges from (her readings of) intercultural cinema -- that is, one that is auratic, embodied, and mimetic -- will also be appropriate to cinemas beyond that from which it springs, and I would expect a number of the book's concepts to find their way into discussions within and beyond film theory. Marks's readings of the haptic image, haptic visuality, and mimeticism are particularly important, usefully advancing a number of filmic debates in non-imitative directions. It is worth noting, I think, that the exciting perspectives this volume offers to film-philosophy spring from the original treatments Marks gives to films and theorists alike, demonstrating the energy that such interdisciplinary work can generate.

 

While the book's focus is on technologies of film and video, many of Marks's arguments invite application elsewhere. For instance, I was intrigued to notice that a number of the intercultural film and video makers whose work is discussed are moving beyond an audio-visual consciousness, [5] perhaps indicating a point of contact with some artists working with newer media, who experiment with the configuration of different media elements, and with the implications this might have for audiences' encounters with such works. The experimentation of these intercultural artists with film and video has produced results which seem concerned not just with a cultural inbetween-ness, but with a media inbetween-ness as well.

 

To sum up, _The Skin of the Film_ is quite unique. Offering important contributions to the redefinition of aesthetic scholarship, the author simultaneously conducts close readings of filmic works which are not well known, and presents nuanced readings of their significance, within an original theoretical framework.

 

University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

 

 

Footnotes

 

1. Philip Brophy, for instance, claims that: 'Nowhere near enough has been said about sound and music in the cinema'; and: 'As the deep oceans of the planet remain unexplored, so does the world of sound in film exist as a deep, moist terrain, submerged by the weight of literary and visual discourse'; Brophy, 'Introduction', in Brophy, ed., _Cinesonic: The World of Sound in Film_, (North Ryde, Sydney: AFTRS, 1999), p. v. The Cinesonics conference website is at http://cinesonic.rmit.edu.au/CNSNC01/C01cinesonic.html; accessed 23 October 2001. While recognising the importance of sound, Marks admits that her work cannot give it the attention it deserves.

 

2. In Marks's description of Beharry's performance, the dualism finds another of its forms, with the 'East' serving as the 'nose' and sensual 'body' to the visual, 'cerebral' 'West'.

 

3. I mean to refer to the full sense of the term cognition here. John Waterworth, for instance, argues that cognition has been much reduced, so that it is now generally taken to refer to rational problem solving. See his 'Creativity and Sensation: The Case for Synaesthetic Media', _Leonardo_, vol. 30 no. 4, 1997.

 

4. Alphonso Lingis's reading of Heidegger's famous hammer example presents a useful example of this. See his _ Sensation: Intelligibility in Sensibility_, (Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1996), p. 21.

 

5. I borrow the notion of an 'audiovisual consciousness' from Ross Gibson, who writes that while digital multimedia has inherited many aspects of cinema, it has also mutated them. Included here is digital multimedia's ability to 'federate disparate elements in astonishing configurations'; Ross Gibson, 'Projected Backwards into the Future: Cinemedia's Platform 1.0 on Federation Square', _Wide Angle_, vol. 21 no. 1, 1999, p. 175.

 

 

Copyright © _Film-Philosophy_ 2002

 

Melanie Swalwell, 'The Senses and Memory in Intercultural Cinema', _Film-Philosophy_, vol. 6 no. 32, October 2002 <http://www.film-philosophy.com/vol6-2002/n32swalwell>.

 

 

Read Laura U. Marks's Response:

Laura U. Marks, 'Emergent Senses: A Response to Swalwell', _Film-Philosophy_, vol. 6 no. 36, October 2002 <http://www.film-philosophy.com/vol6-2002/n36marks>.

 

 

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