The Address of the Eye
A Phenomenology of Film Experience
Cinema is a sensuous object, but in our presence it becomes also a sensing, sensual, sense-making subject. Thus argues Vivian Sobchack as she challenges basic assumptions of current film theory that reduce film to an object of vision and the spectator to a victim of a deterministic cinematic apparatus. Maintaining that these premises ignore the material and cultural-historical situations of both the spectator and the film, the author makes the radical proposal that the cinematic experience depends on two "viewers" viewing: the spectator and the film, each existing as both subject and object of vision. Drawing on existential and semiotic phenomenology, and particularly on the work of Merleau-Ponty, Sobchack shows how the film experience provides empirical insight into the reversible, dialectical, and signifying nature of that embodied vision we each live daily as both "mine" and "another's." In this attempt to account for cinematic intelligibility and signification, the author explores the possibility of human choice and expressive freedom within the bounds of history and culture.