Wednesday 22 July 2015, 11:20-12.50
Philosophy Seminar Room 2 (B-ring 610)
Conventions of Spatial Coherence in Film
Prof Gabriel Greenberg, UCLA
Films are made up of individual shots strung together in sequences over time. Though each shot is disconnected from the next, combinations of shots are able to convey highly coherent content: unbroken stories that take place in continuous space and time. How is this possible? Conventionalism is the view that specific semantic conventions of film help bridge the gap between disjointed images and coherent content, much the way linguistic conventions allow speakers to combine disconnected words to form meaningful sentences. By contrast, Anti-conventionalism holds that films express continuous narratives through purely pragmatic mechanisms— perception, rational inference, and knowledge of the world— without recourse to semantic rules. In this talk, I’ll articulate and defend a new version of Conventionalism that draws upon contemporary linguistic theories of discourse. I base my case around the “180-Degree Rule”, a particular convention of spatial coherence, and argue that it plays an indispensable role in film interpretation, one that cannot be explained away in purely pragmatic terms.
(The talk derives from joint work with Sam Cumming and Rory Kelly.)