Where is the mind of the media editor? An analysis of editors as intermediaries between technology and the cinematic experience
de Selincourt, Chris
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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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.
PhD Thesis - School of Art and Design
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