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Where is the mind of the media editor? An analysis of editors as intermediaries between technology and the cinematic experience

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posted on 2022-10-24, 14:44 authored by Chris de Selincourt

 

What space does the mind occupy? A standard response to this question might

be to locate the mind within the brain. However some argue that our mental

processes also extend beyond the boundaries of the brain. Gallagher & Zahavi

(2008) have termed these two views of the mind: internalism and externalism.

In cinema, the role of editor as mediator between the cognitive activities of

filmmakers, audiences and the editing equipment, makes their practice particularly

suited for investigating these two seemingly incompatible views. When

editors cut or join chunks of sound and image, they assemble externally what

some would recognise internally as the mind's fluctuations between one object

of attention and the next. Their activities reveal a side of cinema, but also of

the mind, which is usually hidden from view. The purpose of this thesis will

therefore be to show how studying the process of editing contributes to our understanding

of the relationship between mind and world.

In order to address the question of where the editor's mental processes are located,

this study applies a phenomenographic methodology. Rather than attempt

to understand cognition from a preconceived or objectively constituted

position, phenomenography starts by examining variation in how a group of

individuals view a particular process. This leads toward research findings that

are presented from a 'second-order perspective' (Marton, 1981). In this thesis

an understanding of how audiovisual material is selected and sequenced is revealed

through fourteen interviews with British editors and directors. From the

analysis of these interviews a framework emerged of five critical interrelated

ways to approach the editing process. This evidence suggests that the cognitive

process occurs in virtue of an editor's physical activities, the editing equipment,

plus a broader network of social and cultural relations that support the

filmmaking environment. Refuting the belief that the mind is separate from the

world, the editor's mental processes are to be found distributed amongst a variety

of internal and external features of their environment.

The outcome of this thesis is a phenomenographic perspective on the editing

process. This, I conclude, will help to inform cognitive scientists of the kinds of

mental processes that editors are aware of. It also provides a wider audience of

scholars with a framework for further research on variation in the process and

practice of editing.

History

School

  • School of Art and Design

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD

Publication year

2016

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