encourage them toseek out, and in part what the artist’s shaping of cinematic form encouragesthem to see.
With film, viewers spend less time with any single image but anequivalent amount of cognitive time with the work as a whole.Film historypresents numerous cases that support the view of cognition put forth here. D.W. Griffith, by breaking scenes down to close-ups and long-shots and byalternating times and places, demonstrated the possibility of conveying asituation and its meaning through a segmented presentation. Eisenstein andPudovkin each formalized theories of how montage conveys the artist’s intendedmeaning to the viewer, and conducted experiments to demonstrate that completelydifferent meanings are conveyed by arranging the same group of shots inalternate ways.If the film makerinvolves the viewer in a stereotyped, superficial, or destructive view ofreality, then schema may be gained, but no broadening of understanding canoccur as a result.
This is the situation that exists with most commercialtelevision and many feature films.2.7 ConclusionThus, it can becomprehended that there has been substantial endeavors to find a solution tothe riddle of films and their cognition by the human mind. It is only throughcognitive approach the processional and representational aspect of cinema canbe understood. The process of cognition is a very complex one and it is throughfurther research that this phenomenon can be fully understood. The various filmtheories which have been discussed in the chapter hardly suffice therequirements of describing the processes through which films are understood. Itis only when the cognitivists took the onus on their shoulders there wasfurther development in the lane of understanding the matter. Chapter 3Film as a System of Communication and Cognitive Linguistics3.
1 IntroductionThis chapter dealswith the discourse of cognitive linguistics in order to understand if certaininsights of this field are applicable in exploring the cognitive principlesinvolved in film production and comprehension. There is huge significance ofcognitive linguistics in the study of cinema and the cognitive linguists havetaken the research to the next level. Several cognitive principles which havebeen developed by the linguists can be applied to the study of movies. Thechapter discusses this in a certain line of argument to establish how theseprocesses come into play while the audience watches films on the screen.Cognitive linguistics subsumes films in its general theory of signification andthis can be very well validated.
The cognitive principles of specificity,focusing, perspective and prominence are the ones which are also functional inthe case of cognition of films. The meaning construction of language and filmsby the human mind are also similar to each other. All these things have beendiscussed in details in this chapter with examples and elucidation. Morespecifically, the chapter tries to explore those cognitive principles whichplay significant role in organizing the content of a frame or a shot.3.
4 Cognitive principles involved in representing and processing ofcodified informationTheconceptual content which is evoked by an expression is not its only meaning.What is equally important is how that content is construed by the human mind.Owing to the conventional semantic value, each symbolic structure construes thecontent in its certain fashion. The visual metaphor is what is inevitable as init the content is likened to a scene and construal to a particular way ofviewing that content. It is never claimed that all meanings are based on spaceor visual perception.
However, the visual metaphor suggests that there is apath to classify the many sides of construal, if only for expository purposes.Whileviewing a scene, what a human being sees is dependent on how closely the personexamines it and what the person chooses to look at. It also depends on whichelements that person pays most attention to and from where it is viewed. Tocomprehend the construal phenomena one needs to delve deep into these fourlabels: specificity, focusing, prominence, and perspective. These four apply toconcepts in all domains. Hence, it is clear that in the process of filmcognition too these four labels will come into play on the part of theaudience.
SpecificityOneof the dimensions of construal is the level of detail and precision at which aparticular situation is characterized. The temperature on a particular day canbe described by saying that it is hot. However, the person can opt for a lotmore specific by saying that it is in the 80s, about 85 degrees, or exactly85.
2 degrees. Likewise, mother ismore specific than relative and white pigeon is more specific than bird. Granularity and resolution are thealternate terms for specificity.Whatit means to say that an expression is highly specific is that it describes asituation in fine-grained detail, with high resolution. The expressions whichhave lesser specificity have coarse-grained descriptions and the low resolutionreveals only gross features.Theopposite of specificity is schematicity.
Thus relative is schematic with respect to mother, and bird withrespect to white pigeon. It needs tobe mentioned that a schematic characterization is instantiated by any number ofmore specific ones, of which each serve the purpose of elaboration.Arelationship which is elaborative is represented by a solid arrow: A ?B.Expressionscan be arranged in elaborative hierarchies. Here each expression is schematicwith respect to the ones that follow: bird? pigeon ? white pigeonhot? in the 80s ? about 85 degrees ? exactly 85.2 degreesIthas to be understood that participating in elaborative relations are both novelexpressions of any size and also lexical items.
In lexicon, such relationsconstitute taxonomies which mean hierarchies of conventionally recognizedtypes. An example is cited below:thing? object ? book ? geography bookIthas to be understood that a person can make an expression as specific as he orshe likes and it can be of any length or stretch in case of films. Making thestretch longer means the person can describe a situation more precisely and ingreater detail. However, there are practical limits. Since the stretch isfinite in nature, a certain expression can only be specific to a particularextent and this is possible with respect to certain facets of the overallsituation in context.Therecan be expressions as the one mentioned below which exhibit a mixture ofschematic and specific description:Somebodysaw a rugged thug wearing a black jacket.Likewise,lexical meanings too are specific in only some respects while being schematicin the others.
What is very fundamental to cognition is the phenomenon ofschematization. This is constantly occurring in every realm of humanexperience. Schema extraction is actually the reinforcing of something inherentin multiple experiences. This is done by identifying the commonality among themat whatever level of granularity it can be ascertained. Thus, a schema shouldbe seen as immanent in its varied instantiations. It is not separate anddistinct. The very nature of schema is to capture the common thing which can beestimated after having experiences.
Schema serves a categorizing function andthus can be applied to any new experience which exhibits the sameconfiguration.Inevery aspect of language structure and film cognition, schemas and elaborativerelationships are very essential. It can be claimed that all conceptualgeneralizations arise via schematization from structures which are morespecific. In the field of semantics, schemas and categorizing relationshipswhich are based on either elaboration or extension make the network whichrepresents the senses of apolysemous lexical item. Asthe representations of conventional patterns, schemas provide the basis forassessing the proper formation of language.
An expression is taken to bewell-formed to the extent that it bears relationships of elaboration (ratherthan extension) to the schemas which are invoked to categorize it.Thisnotion of specificity is also applicable in case of films across the world. Inthe closing scene of the famous film White, which is one of the films of theThree Colors Trilogy, the director, Kieslowski, shows the male protagonistlooking at his wife who is jailed on the accusation of killing him, somethingthat he has framed her for as revenge. He looks at her from a distance as shemakes some gestures expressing her desire to be with him. His face is held inclose up by the camera and the audience can very well see each of his facialreaction, his frowns, his tears and his grin which all in unison express hispain of love and hatred which are dichotomous, yet prevailing in his mind atthe same time. The expression of theseemotions in the scene by the use of cinematic apparatus makes the audience findspecificity of the protagonist’s emotions which are shown on the screen.
Injuxtaposition to this, if this would have been a long shot and his expressionswould not have been so conspicuous, the audience would have missed out on thesubtlety of his emotions and they might have comprehended the sequencedepending on the schema of emotions in their minds which goes with the sequence.3.4.2FocusingHumanbeings access particular portions of the conceptual universe through thelinguistic expressions.
This dimension of construal which is known as focusingincludes foreground vs. background which can be described as the arrangementwhich helps one understand the meaning of something.Alexical item gives direct access to a set of cognitive domains ranked for thecentrality as a part of the conventional value. The inventory of the domain isactually a representation of a selection of conceptual content. The centraldomains are foregrounded (in the sense of being more accessible) vis-à-visperipheral ones. It has to be understood that the domains which are selectedare active to varying degrees. Also, of all the domains in the matrix, only alimited number can be activated on a particular occasion.
A high level ofactivation can be defined as a kind of foregrounding. It has to be understoodthat focusing is a matter of degree. Focusing is actually relative toparticular purposes, and levels of organization, dimensions of structure. 3.4.
2.1Foreground vs. BackgroundDifferentsorts of asymmetries lend themselves to the metaphoric description asforeground vs.
background. These are differentiable but can be seen to manifesta very general feature of cognition. What they all involve is the departurefrom a baseline, the exploitation of previous experience for the interpretationof the subsequent experience.
The manifestation in perception is a phenomenonwhich is called figure vs. ground. For example, a sudden sound stands out asfigure against the ground of silence and a small, moving cursor against themore stable background on a laptop screen. The other manifestation iscategorization. This happens when the categorizing structure is recognizedwithin the experience being categorized. What lies in the background is thecategorizing structure and it is taken for granted as a pre-established basisfor assessment.
The target is in the foreground of awareness as the structurewhich is being observed and assessed by the spectator in case of films.Onecan speak of background and foreground for any situation where one conceptionprecedes and in some way helps the emergence of another as in films too. Thus,in this broad sense, it can be said that expressions invoke backgroundknowledge as the very basis for the process of comprehension. For example onecan take the sentence ‘I want to put the canned tuna on the top rack of therefrigerator.’ Presupposed knowledge comes into play in this case. Although itseems that the information is too explicit, the interpretation lies in thecultural knowledge pertaining to food storage and refrigerator organization.
Ifthis knowledge is absent, one might go on to interpret that it is needed totake out the tuna from the can first and then kept on the rack and the canshould be placed somewhere else or so on. At the same time, the basic knowledgeof our physical world as we experience it is very important for comprehension.In case of films too one needs to understand the cultural context or thecomprehensive process might remain faulty or incomplete. Inthe same way, the source domain of a metaphor has a kind of precedencevis-à-vis the target domain. The source domain provides a conceptual backgroundin terms of which the target domain is comprehended and the source domain ismore directly anchored in bodily experience. The spectator views the targetagainst this background. Thus, the blended space comes into play which is ahybrid domain and the source and target domains jointly constitute thebackground from which the blended conception emerges.
Ateach step of cognition, the current expression is constructed and interpretedagainst the background of those that have happened before. The prior events arevery important determinant (together with context, background knowledge, etc.)of something which can be termed as the current discourse space (CDS). This CDSis actually a mental space which comprises everything presumed to be shared bythe characters on the screen during the movie and the spectator as the basisfor discourse at a given point of time. Having its inception from that basis,every successive event shown in the movie updates the CDS in some way.3.4.
2.2CompositionMostof the expressions are symbolically complex and are actually assembled out ofsmaller symbolic elements. The concept of ‘lipstick’ can be taken as an exampleof symbolic components. This concept as an integrated whole is the compositesymbolic structure and the parts ‘lip’ and ‘stick’ are component symbolicstructures. It has to be remembered that a composite structure can itselffunction as a component structure in an expression which has a greater symboliccomplexity.
Thus a lipstick and maker are the components of the higher levelcomposite structure: ‘lipstick maker.’ ‘Lip’ and ‘stick’ form a word, while ‘make’and ‘-er’ form another. These two words combine to create a new meaning. Infilm, to make one understand the notion of composition we can draw the exampleof many movies. For example if we take for example the film White by Kieslowski, in the endingsequence we can find the background score playing a melancholy tone and thehusband who has come to see his wife looks at her from distance with variousemotions in his heart and tears in his eyes.
The lighting is done to make theaudience focus on his face. All these elements which come into play in thissequence compose it. The meaning of the scene gets accentuated in the mind ofthe audience experiencing all these things in unison.