The wandering mind: a filmic investigation of the uncanny and the walking body

GENT, Susannah (2016). The wandering mind: a filmic investigation of the uncanny and the walking body. In: Wild or Domesticated: Uncanny in Historical and Contemporary Perspectives to Mind, House of Science and Letters, University of Turku, Helsinki, Finland, 20 - 22nd Septermber 2016. (Unpublished)

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Susannah Gent, experimental filmmaker and interdisciplinary researcher of consciousness, employs walking as a strategy to explore the uncanny nature of the subjective experience. Her films investigate ways of representing walking as an act of synthesis of mind and body. Using the camera as a substitute for the eye, Gent considers the problem of recording the movement of the body through an environment, following a map of the landscape whilst simultaneously creating a neural map of the experience. Gent contributes to a contemporary, interdisciplinary dialogue on the uncanny by drawing on the Freudian unconscious and Heidegger's Dasein, alongside the recent work of neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. Damasio proposes a three tiered construct of self; the proto-, core-, and autobiographical self, with the proto-self being the nonconscious forerunner to consciousness, and present in all organisms with brains. Gent explores this evolutionary view as a potential expansion of psychoanalytic and philosophical notions of selfhood, with the haphazard nature of mental evolution producing perceptual contradictions between thinking and being. With selfhood viewed as an evolutionary latecomer, the automaticity which underpins Dasein and the psychoanalytic unconscious can be seen as a mode of unity between an organism and its environment. This unity offers a potential new position from which panpsychism can be viewed and places consciousness in the position of an eerie bystander. Gent's filmic sketches are produced using a combination of structuralist and surrealist approaches; small cameras strapped to the body, combined with stream of consciousness monologue which attempt to render visible something of the subjective experience. Although imperfect, these representations create a starting point through the presentation of an external object. In this way the film acts as an intermediate in the intersubjective dialogue of human consciousness. Irving Massey suggests that ‘metaphors are incubators for ideas’, (Massey 2009) proposing that the visual language of metaphor and the dream are pre-linguistic in evolutionary terms. The relationship between art and the psychoanalytic unconscious is well established, with an intention of accessing and exploring dimensions of thought which underpin conscious cognition. In this way art practice acts as a form of research with unique and individualistic methods, and walking, which promotes automaticity and reflection is an ideal activity through which to undertake this approach to research.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Depositing User: Susannah Gent
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2016 16:29
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 11:43

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