Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the “cognitive” study of moving images?

Members of SCSMI seek to understand, among other things, the ways in which perceptual and neural processing relate to spectators’ affective responses, to viewers’ comprehension of film narratives, and to the saliency of particular formal features of films. Members also raise questions about how artistic strategies, such as narrative construction, audio-visual technique, and the creation of emotional responses, may be amenable to naturalistic explanations in a cognitive framework. Members are likewise interested in the implications of empirical findings for conceptual analysis, theory clarification, and philosophical inquiry related to film.

What is the history and purpose of SCSMI?

A broad research tradition has emerged since the mid-1980s that tries to understand the power of the moving image by approaching it naturalistically. This tradition examines how the theories and findings of empirical science can shed light on the art and craft of film, television, and other audiovisual media. More specifically, it supposes that the field cognitive and brain science, which has burgeoned since the 1960s, can illuminate many aspects of the workings of motion pictures. It is with the purpose of fostering this line of research that a group of scholars came together, starting in the mid 1990s, to organize what has become Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image. More…

Are video games and art installations “moving images”?

SCSMI members are interested in all moving-image-based arts and entertainments, from computer games, to video art installations, to political advertisements, to surveillance systems. SCSMI members are interested in all aspects of these arts and entertainments, as well, from music and editing to narrative structure and ideological effects. Although many SCSMI members come out of traditional cinema studies, the central focus of the field is the ways in which people interact with movies and media. Because video games and art installations invite special kinds of interaction, they are natural objects of study for the field.

What is the relationship of SCSMI to Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind?

Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind, winner of the PROSE Award in 2009 for Best New Journal in the Social Sciences and Humanities, is fast becoming the most important journal for scholarship that explores the ways in which recent advancements in fields such as cognitive psychology, psychoanalysis, neuroscience, genetics, and evolution help to increase our understanding of film. Projections publishes scholarship from a broad array of perspectives, some of which are only tangential to the cognitive approach of SCSMI.  Thus although Projections is not the official journal of SCSMI, SCSMI is a sponsor of the journal, and a membership in SCSMI includes subscription to the Projections. Projections is interdisciplinary and peer-reviewed. Members of SCSMI are strongly encouraged to submit their work toProjections for publication. For submission guidelines, click here.

How is SCSMI related to SCMS?

SCSMI and The Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) are unaffiliated, although both organizations are dedicated to the scholarly study of film and media, and the groups share some members. SCMS is a much larger organization. Some joint members of the two organizations are currently looking into forming a Scholarly Interest Group in SCMS, to be called the Cognitive/Analytic Scholarly Interest Group. Were this to occur, SCMS members with an interest in cognitive and analytic approaches to film and media would have the opportunity to meet at each SCMS conference. Stay tuned.