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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 16, 2016

Film and Phenomenology

Vivian Sobchack
Pages 63-90
DOI: 10.5840/studphaen2016162

“The Active Eye” (Revisited)
Toward a Phenomenology of Cinematic Movement

The foundational basis of the cinematic moving image is camera movement, which occurs not only in the image but also, and from the first, as the image. This essay approaches off-screen camera movement through phenomenological description of the gestalt structure of its four interrelated onscreen forms: the moving image as an intentional and composite “viewing view/viewed view”; the moving image as “qualified” by optical camera movement through subjective modes of spatiotemporal transcendence; the movement of subjects and objects in the moving image as seen by a world-directed camera; and the spatial movement of the camera, whose perspectival vision affirms its status as an embodied, if anonymous, “quasi-subject,” whose visually perceptive motility responds to its world in visibly expressive mobility. Throughout, the essay develops Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s claim that the cinema is, perhaps, the phenomenological art par excellence, given that its “technical methods” correspond to an “existential” and phenomenological “mode of thought.”

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