Cognition and audiovisual media – University of Copenhagen

Cognition and Audiovisual Media

The aim of this group is to further continuous academic discussion and development within the department’s group of cognitive film and media researchers. The group is defined methodologically: it is naturalistic in assuming that we may learn from the natural an behavioral sciences and it is mentalistic in assuming that the workings of the spectators’ mind is biased due to, for example, default assumptions. Thus, group members draw on insights from emotion and perception psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, developmental psychology, etc., in order to improve our understanding of how audiovisual works serve purposes of comprehension and experience.

The questions for which we seek answers generally belong to the humanities as traditionally conceived, but we are more inclined towards causal and functional explanations (as compared to interpretation and a hermeneutic approach). For instance, cognitive film and media theory apply models and theories from perception and emotion psychology in order to understand the power of recurrent themes or the longevity of certain stylistic or narrative features. Where historical explanations often guide us to the interplay of contextual, situational and personal factors in specific cases, cognitive film and media theory assumes the power of cross-cultural workings of the mind. This assumption allows for a background against which to understand, for instance, historical variations or genre preferences.

The department has a relatively long history for trying to bring insights from the natural and behavioral sciences to bear on questions traditionally dealt with in film studies. More recently, group members have also dealt with computer games and TV-series. In 2009, we hosted the 7th International SCSMI Conference, and in 1999 we hosted one of SCSMI’s founding meetings, a three-day symposium. In 2011, we hosted a Scandinavian symposium on Body Language in Audiovisual Media, and in 2006, we hosted Cognition, Culture and Audiovisual Media, with a large contingency of international speakers. In 2008, we organized a two-day symposium on Evolution and Media.