While visiting New York last year I did not only fall in love with the Big Apple but also with the SCSMI, the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image, a great community of cognitive film scholars who are likewise interested in media psychology, neuroscience and video game studies. This year I was again invited to the annual SCSMI conference which – conveniently – took place from June 12-15, 2013 in Berlin, Germany.
This year’s organizers Monika Suckfüll, Flavia Bleuel and Diana Mirza had picked a fine location for the event: the University of the Arts Berlin. Over the course of four days about 70 papers were presented in three parallel tracks by speakers from all over the world. As the most prominent conference themes there emerged ‘evergreens’ like empathy, narrative comprehension, and the emotions, but also less frequently addressed topics like synesthesia, thermoception or boredom in film. Among the presentations which I was able to attend were Torben Grodal‘s paper on Audience Bonding, Malcom Turvey‘s discussion of the value of evolutionary psychology for cognitive film studies, Julian Hanich‘s paper on terror and dread or Andreas Gregersen‘s fascinating analysis of Mickey’s Fire Brigade through formal functional cognitive sequence analysis.
Another great aspect of this year’s SCSMI conference was that many old and new German colleagues of mine did also attend the conference and presented their research. Among them were Maike Sarah Reinerth and Markus Kuhn who introduced a very promising interdisciplinary approach to representations of subjectivity in audiovisual media, Erwin Feyersinger with a paper on visual abstraction (which is also quite relevant for my own research), and also Janina Wildfeuer with a fascinating reconstruction of the logical forms of discourse in Amelie. In addition, two highlights were doubtlessly the Keynote Lecture by Peter Wuss on the aesthetic experience of film viewing and Carl Plantinga‘s visionary discussion of a new cultural paradigm for cognitive media studies. My own presentation on early Friday morning (the ‘hangover session’) addressed some core aspects of my PhD project, namely the use of cognitive theory for game character analysis (see Talks).
Thus, the SCSMI conference was – again – a great opportunity for getting to know people and learning a lot about cutting-edge research within the field of cognitive media studies. Many thanks to the organizers for a great conference!