Recent Comments

Miklos Kiss
Richard has an important point with further implications. There’s a relevant article by Daniel Chávez Heras, in which Heras is contemplating on how big role the computer / visualization software plays in contemporary regimes of the visible, allowing some images and visions to exist (concentrating on, and actually favouring, the average), while often keeping others from existing (highlighting only the average at the expense of the deviant). I guess our (Software Studies’ and Post-Digital Humanities’) role is to reflect on these kinds of normalisations… Here’s the article:
Thanks Richard for this insightful comment. Yes, I too am fascinated by peripheral vision and the challenges it presents for eye tracking research. This is something we tried to gesture towards in this video essay. There is interesting eye tracking work done on ‘scene gist recognition’ and ‘covert attention’ that is relevant here. As you note, the processes that inform peripheral vision are integral to visual cognition as a whole. They also underline just how complex the process of ‘seeing’ is.
Thanks so much for this feedback Miklos, and so good to hear that this video essay matches up so well with your own teaching! The question you raise about the influence of eye tracking research on filmmaking strategies is certainly fascinating to consider. You mention Tim Smith’s important work in the field – and an event that he hosted in 2014 with AMPAS in Los Angeles brought together filmmakers and neuroscientists in order to investigate this topic. You can find details about it on Tim Smith’s blog Continuity Boy and via AMPAS ≤>. Although the filmmakers involved (Jon Favreau, Darron Aronofsky) weren’t directly influenced by eye tracking research – many topics and experiments were discussed pointing to the ways that eye tracking research often supports the intuitive logic of filmmaking and editing choices. Another area of possible influence is the testing that Smith did in regards to frame rates, as covered in an article for Wired .
Richard Misek
Such a pleasure to see a work in which the nature of the research and the means by which it’s presented are so synchronous, and such a fascinating experience to see scenes from a film superimposed with heat maps, simultaneously to watch the images watched and traces of the watching. Just one (open-ended) question - what about peripheral vision? Not focalising is not the same as not seeing. When I watch a film, I see the entire image, not a face surrounded by darkness; the peripheral vision that ensures my survival as I move through the world does not switch off when I watch a film. I wonder if the final payoff from eye tracking research that Dan North is waiting for may also require further research on what we see in the places we’re not looking.
Miklos Kiss
How nice, the scene from NYSM is exactly the same I invite students to analyze (in my puzzle films class) regarding its clever combination of traditional magic and cinematic tricks! I wonder if anyone knows film examples where eye-tracking research influenced editing, framing, acting, staging or other aspects of film making. I immensely enjoy these analytical videos, especially since Tim Smith’s work on THERE WILL BE BLOOD, and now would like to see how the emerging knowledge could support practical choices of filmmakers.
Cüneyt Çakırlar
Many thanks for your appreciative comments, Elif and Daniel! As I’d had the chance to talk to you in detail regarding this video, I know how your affective investments in this piece operate, and how different these investments are. Yet, the ways you both intellectually framed in our conversations how the video “moved” and “touched” you had been tremendously helpful to me. I have never had the chance to officially respond to the reception of this piece post publication. I must admit that this delay was partly because the one-year-long peer-review process was extremely challenging to me and the published versions of the review reports confused me for a while. Although I grew to like the Derridean Glas-like two-column format of its final presentation above, I had ended up questioning the extent/effectivity of openness and of intellectual reciprocity in the review process, which is why I needed some time to critically reflect on my reactions to the entire process before providing a mature account of my thoughts and experiences. Inspired by the recurring images of mothering/motherhood in Moore’s performances, this video’s primary ambition was a formal one. It aimed to formally register a “queer erotic” that is significantly informed by the friction between “mothering” and sexuality. The video exploits this friction in order to produce an incestuous maternal persona by making use of Moore’s performances. If there was a claim of original contribution (to the growing literature on videographic criticism) here, I had tried to make the formal/textual operation of the video as the central concern in its contribution: How to achieve a queer form (and method) in the production of a video essay that attempts to prioritise the erotic as the primary marker of a star-text – while providing a poetic/performative account of a star-image? How to eroticize, and even queer, the tribute/compilation format? My modest engagement with editing and sound tried to tackle these questions. Because all my “un-official peer-reviewers” (the majority of whom are scholars and practitioners in various fields of LGBTQ media, film and arts) were able to grasp the queer erotic and performativity embedded in the piece, I was intrigued by the fact that the peer reviewers had not addressed, at all, the queer performativity (failed or not), and perhaps more significantly, the erotic register/address (successfully articulated or not) in this video and its formal choices. Although the peer-review process in its entirety (including the editorial interventions from the inTransition team) had been an intellectually rewarding process, I must admit that the unintelligibility of what I thought to be my original intervention/contribution was upsetting. In her discussion on “recent videographic approaches to film performance”, published by Cinema Journal in the special dossier “In Focus: Videographic Criticism”, Catherine Grant considers Mothers on the Line as one of the “most dynamic, original, and productive works emerging from or most connected to the contemporary context of online video” (2017: 151). Grant notes that the piece exemplifies a videographic practice that “combine[s] a multilayered homage to the performer [it] showcases […] with exacting critical audiovisual analysis, achieved through intricate processes of associative editing” (152). Comparing the video with Jaap Kooijman’s Success (2016), Grant argues that Mothers on the Line is a “somewhat more ambiguous, much less verbally “anchored” video” (152). Reminding the reader of my reference to “allure”-as-concept (in the title) and Kooijman’s critique of it, Grant uses Mothers on the Line as an example where an experimental videographic practice could escape its author’s intent and discursive predictions. Yet, Grant does not restrict her reading to the use of allure-as-concept which is, for me, a minor element of the video when compared to the formal/methodological issues raised above. Grant problematizes the place of appropriation (in her reference to the “inventive conjunctions of song lyrics and film footage”) and of performativity (through Barbara Bolt’s focus on the difficulties of access/intelligibility to works operating at the intersections between the “performative paradigms” and “research paradigms”) in videographic criticism. This debate on appropriation and performativity was precisely what I wished to provoke in Mothers on the Line. Problematizing my use of “allure”-as-concept, Kooijman states (above) that the “poetic mode succeeds quite beautifully in providing a sense of Moore’s allure, yet without fully grasping what such a concept eventually entails—which might be its point.” The use of “allure” was indeed deliberately ambivalent. It was deliberately made “slippery”. So was the use of “maternal” in square brackets. As Liz Greene also notes in her review (above), Moore’s appearances in the video “manage to remain slippery and difficult to pin down”. The swerve from the section “I. Union/Dissolution” to “II. The [Maternal] Allure” (i.e. from the generic dramas of maternal attachment/detachment to the scenes of erotic[/incestuous?] attachments to mothers/mother-substitutes) enacts this deliberate slipperiness. After all, can we “fully grasp” our erotic investments in stars and their images? Or, does such a compilation require a queer cinephilic engagement for its slippery erotic to be “grasped” more effectively? This critical ambivalence had been an immensely productive tool for me to provide a poetic/performative account of the prevalent erotic embedded in Julianne Moore’s maternal persona. With certain resonances and dissonances, motherhood/mothering is almost a performative anchor in most of Moore’s characters. Is my incorporation of 17 films really “collapsing” all these characters into a monolithic marker of “mothering”? Or, does it, in Greene’s words, “undervalue the totality of [Moore’s] enigmatic star presence”? I don’t think so. In my opinion, the reviewers’ critical focus on conceptual ambivalence (Kooijman) and the ethic of representation (Greene) undermines the value and the constitutive role of “the erotic” in this video’s formal operation. Focused on their own critical frameworks, the reviewers don’t seem to address (in the published version of their reports) what precisely they thought was worthy of publication in this work, and what its original contribution, if any, was to videographic criticism. Grant, however, does ameliorate this by also maintaining her critical curiosities in her reading.
Jason Mittell

[in]Transition's embrace of open peer review is still a novelty within academia, and thus may provoke disagreement and confusion in some contributors and readers. To clarify our process: we invite esteemed reviewers with considerable expertise to assess and comment upon the merits of submissions, and use those reviews to suggest revisions as appropriate to videos and accompanying statements. The final reviews and statement are edited by each writer to convey their individual perspectives, which may certainly disagree with one another; an author is always welcome to withdraw their submission if they believe the reviews do not adequately engage with the key concepts of their video. Our editors ensure that all published reviews and statements meet standards of professionalism, and model the spirit of open intellectual exchange that should sustain our academic community.

However, the post-publication comment thread is neither moderated nor approved by [in]Transition's editors. We presume that the requirement of commenting using real names will avoid the inflammatory culture that other online comment threads seem to nurture. We call upon our community to model the kind of respectful professional exchanges that we have all earned, and to particularly acknowledge the voluntary, unpaid labor that goes into peer reviewing and editing this journal. We hope that knowing that such deviations from a respectful tone will be linked with a commenter's name and professional reputation will be sufficient to guarantee professionalism and generosity of spirit.

-Jason Mittell, Project Manager for [in]Transition, on behalf of the entire editorial team

Daniel Massie
Thanks for this essay! It’s really fascinating, and gives language and criticality to things I think about often but haven’t been able to articulate. I find the voiceover to balance nicely with the visual sequences, making for a convincing + stimulating watch.
Daniel Massie
A truly moving and poetic video essay - elegantly structured and composed, and richly layered. The sequencing, use of music, and pacing really accentuated the scope of Moore’s career and reinforce the thesis. With a very convincing accompanying text, and incisive reviews I agree with, and am inspired by, this essay’s ability - and willingness - to situate itself within a new avenue of star studies. For my own research this approach is of great benefit, both in its willingness to re-neogtiate how we view an actor’s body of work, and similarily how one establishes a corpus of films for study. One a personal level seeing Moore’s work unpacked this way is so rewarding, entertaining, and fascinating. Within the essay’s consideration of Moore’s (performative) appeal and allure in an abstract and theoretical way, I find its form and breadth of (specific) analysis to be an alluring appeal in and of itself. As a self professed Moore devotee, cinephile, and ‘actressexual’ it is very exciting and gratifying to see research as contemporary and alive as this on this platform and treated with the respect and academic sincerity it undoubtably deserves.