Murch references an interesting Huston quote: “Film is like thought. It’s the closest to thought process of any art.” He uses this quote to serve his argument about the connections between thoughts and our natural blinking rhythms and responses, and then parallels these blinking responses to film editing, and how editors use the “natural blinks” of a cut in film to guide an audience’s thoughts. This argument is interesting because of the connections it makes between our physical reactions to our mental and emotional states, and how we can translate these responses to mediated experiences:  not just using this information to create these reactions for ourselves, but even to measure how effectively we may or may not have already achieved these intentions in a piece of media.

What I found most interesting about his focus on this particular quote, however, was the idea of film as “the closest to thought process of any art.” Now, this is not to say that the experience of any art is “thoughtless,” but more that film “does the thinking for you” in some ways. Conversely, this does not take away ones ability to think about, analyse, and create their own interpretations of film; it is simply to say the technical and aesthetics bases of film editing mimic how physical-mental processes – in this case, blinking – thereby creating itself as the art closest to thinking.

This book was published in 2001, which I find interesting because – while we were certainly not as advanced as we are now in terms of interactive design – interactivity was no stranger in culture. Video games were incredibly prevalent, the internet was common in schools and houses, and we were in the early stages of moving in to our current mediated environment. True, Murch is a film editor, so regardless of how he may have felt about the issue, it would be his intention to simply connect this interesting quote back to his own thoughts and ideas on film editing. However, I wonder if it can truly be said today that film is the closest art to thinking, as interactive mediated experiences continue to grow and develop. If we use video games as an example of interactive media, we know that game design employs many film techniques – narrative, character and plot development, editing using cuts to convey cut scenes and segues in the most effective ways to tell the story. Can we reconcile the film-like qualities inherent in certain interactive designs and the need for human input and thought to control and utilize those interactive experiences? Or is precisely because we cannot “interact” with film in the same as a video game, and thus, can never bring our own thinking into the thinking of the mediated experience, that film will continue to be closer to thought process than interactive art?

Advertisements