Zerstreuung: Reception in a state of distraction / Gabriele Pedulla on movies and spectators after the cinema {reading notes}

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Wilhelm von Schadow

The cinema was the mass art form of the 20th century; it is no longer so today. Gabriele Pedulla, in his new book, "In Broad Daylight," published by Verso, investigates what he sees as a paradigm shift in the status of the cinematic image. The shift is not unlike the change from watching plays on a stage to movies in a theater (or what the author refers to as "the dark cube"). Pedulla takes us down the road of Western aesthetics and traces a line straight from the medieval Italian playhouse to the smartphone, analyzing trends in viewing decorum. If the dark cube "forced" us to pay attention with its use of darkness and demands for silence and sitting, today television (aided by the remote control) and mobile electronics have encouraged us to detach ourselves from the action on the screen in ways that no longer promote empathy with fictional characters. We no longer have to care. Is this a crisis or are we merely redefining the way we watch movies? Pedulla answers this question and others with a heaping of literary and cinematic references. Cinephiles and YouTubers alike will find the thesis of this book intriguing as its implications reach far beyond the cinema to the other arts as well.

Originally Posted 7/23/2012

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