At first glance attending the annual conference of the SCSMI (Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image) sounds somewhat old-fashioned: “Cognitive film studies? That’s so 1970s!” … But far from it! The SCSMI is a living scientific community which keeps renewing its object of research as well as its methodological toolbox. Together with my colleague and supervisor Kathrin Fahlenbrach I was invited to this year’s SCSMI conference that took place June 13-16, 2012 in Bronxville, New York.
Highlights of the conference were the keynote lectures by Alva Noë, David Bordwell and Noël Carroll as well as a night of fascinating experimental 3D films by Ken Jacobs. These lectures and the various other paper presentations made it quite clear that the majority of research within the SCSMI no longer focuses solely on modeling film viewers’ cognitive activity of ‘information processing’ (as one might expect with regard to the ‘cognitivist’ label) but on the viewing experience as a whole, covering moods, perception, emotions and the diverse ways of relating to fictional characters.
This became also apparent in the paper Kathrin Fahlenbrach and I presented: It was titled “Emotional Mechanics” and discussed the way video games structure players’ emotional responses to video game characters and their behaviour. The conference ended on June 16 with a banquet at New York University.