Re: [Frameworks] persistence (was: The code of)

From: email suppressed
Date: Tue Jul 06 2010 - 11:44:30 PDT

Yes, my understanding is that the question of how the illusion of
movement occurs in cinema got taken up into the much broader debate(s)
between psychoanalytic film theory and cognitive film theory. The
former envisions a more passive spectator (i.e. one who is "sutured"
by the processes of the "apparatus," which replicates the "dominant
ideology" that "positions the subject" - makes subjects out of passive
viewers who cannot avoid this happening to them, in other words). The
latter - cognitive film theory - asserts a more active spectator,
emphasizing all the ways we process and "fill in" the input from the
screen. Critics of the persistence of vision explanation don't like
the way it reduces the illusion of movement in film to brute
physiology, and want to emphasize, instead, the "creative" (in a very
broad sense of that term) input from the viewer's active cognitive

Per Nicky's email, I've always wondered if our ability to track
movement (apparent movement) across still frames has something to do
with vision being "discrete" rather than "continuous" (if that's what
you meant by "sampled in packets" Nicky). If vision is indeed a
sampling process rather than continuous, that might help explain why
we can see motion in still images - we're primed to do so. But that's
only IF vision is discrete, and the jury is still out on that. And
btw, I'm no scientist, so please file this under sheer speculation.

Jonathan Walley
Dept. of Cinema
Denison University

Quoting "email suppressed>:

> I think they are distinct issues, but the authors want to grind
> their axes, so they do some polemicising early on in the essay,
> before they settle down to looking at the issues around flicker
> fusion, Phi, persistence etc. I posted the link because it does
> deal quite usefully with how the illusion of movement has come to
> be understood by psychologists and neuro-scientists as having
> nothing to do with "persistence of vision", although there are
> still debates going on within these communities about how various
> movement phenomena occur. For example, the wagon wheel effect is
> not peculiar to film but can be observed in ordinary objects in
> continuous light, eg, car wheels appearing to go backwards and
> forwards. One theory has it that this is because data is sampled in
> packets, against another that says it's to do with different cells
> in the visual cortex competing to register contrary motion stimuli.
> If you put this into Google: Schouten, J. F. (1967). Subjective
> stroboscopy and a model of visual movement detectors, you will get a
> link to a PDF of a paper on explanations for why the wagon wheel
> effect can occur in continuous illumination.
> Nicky.
> On 6 Jul 2010, at 17:56, malgosia askanas wrote:
>> I don't understand how the question of the mechanism whereby we
>> have the illusion of motion when watching film segues into the
>> question of "passive" vs "active" viewing. For example, "La
>> Jetee" doesn't require any engagement of the mechanism for the
>> illusion of motion. Does this mean that when we view it, we are
>> condemned to passive spectatorship?
>> -m

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