Cognitive Transition and Cutting Techniques for Narrative Film Rhetoric Simulation

Cognitive Transition and Cutting Techniques for Narrative Film Rhetoric Simulation

Akihito Kanai (Hosei University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4864-6.ch001
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This chapter surveys, discusses, and explores the entire concept of visual narrative structure, cognition, and generation from continuity-based to discontinuity-based perspectives. The model of visual narrative structure, including presentation and meaning, is expanded to explain the cognitive transition based on the rhetorical transition techniques and the rhetorical cutting techniques. The classification of the visual narrative structure, including rhetorical transition techniques and rhetorical cutting techniques, is useful for narrative simulation for discussing and exploring the entire visual narrative concept and generation. The rhetorical cutting techniques and the rhetorical transition techniques can reveal various cognitive effects such as reality effects and nostalgia effects, including difficulty. The determinacy-based narrative, the indeterminacy, the diversity, and the ambiguity on narrative can bridge the gaps between cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and narratology.
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This chapter surveys, discusses and explores the entire concept of visual narrative structure, cognition and generation from continuity based to discontinuity based. Visual narratives such as films are analyzed in terms of the cognitive transition, the cognitive processing change of a narrative focus, in this chapter.

The question of how people comprehend visual narratives such as films is difficult and complicated (Loschky et al., 2020). A viewer tends to recognize a film as a visual narrative to understand the story (Cutting, Brunick, & Canden, 2012; Cutting & Iricinschi, 2014). Although viewers’ scene perception and event comprehension based visual narrative comprehension process and generation mechanism are important questions for the field of cognitive science or artificial intelligence, the other aspects of narrative such as the mental difficulties on cognition are also important (Corner, 2018). The mental difficulties are intentionally present, caused by a visual narrative’s core feature. For example, the mental difficulty cognition from massive indeterminacy of place and time caused by the discontinuity editing can enhance the viewpoint diversity and the cognitive transition of the viewer (Kanai, 2018). Besides the determinacy and the continuity based narrative, the indeterminacy, the diversity, the ambiguity, and the discontinuity of narratives are important questions for the field of narratology. For example, Bakhtin (1984) argued the polyphonic theory of novels. The polyphonic theory emphasized the indeterminacy, the divergence, and the ambiguity. In recent years, Hasumi (2014) argued the indeterminacy and the ambiguity of novels such as Madame Bovary.

Narrative is mainly discussed in the field of narratology. Theories on narratology make a strong distinction between story (fabula) and discourse (syuzhet) (e.g., Genette, 1972; Shklovsky, 1965). Story comprehension and meaning are not as important as discourse and rhetoric themselves in theories of narratology (Chatman, 1990). For the study of film, shots, editing, and film structures themselves are equally important. A film has not only a story and meaning structure but also visual and audio structures. Story comprehension is affected by a film’s structure. Furthermore, the cognition difficulties caused by story comprehension are also affected by the structure. The cognition difficulties resulting from the structure are related to the quality and the artistry of the film.

Kanai (2016, 2019) defined the rhetorical cutting technique as rhetorical techniques for creating irrational cuts in a film based on discontinuity editing. Rhetorical cutting techniques generate irrational relationships or unfamiliar situations in film and create an alienation effect (Brecht & Willett, 1964). Rhetorical cutting techniques for narrative space and time in a film can cause a viewer’s cognitive transition from being event-based and story-driven to being presentation-based and rhetoric-driven processing without cognitive effects from the story.

Furthermore, this chapter discusses rhetorical transition techniques, rhetorical techniques for creating plurality and diversity in a film with some story and continuity. Rhetorical transition techniques for narrative space and time in the film can cause the viewer’s cognitive transition from event-based story-driven to presentation-based and rhetoric-driven processing with cognitive effects from the story.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mental Difficulty Cognition: Hard cognition caused by the indeterminacy or the divergence from the presentation.

Narrative Simulation: A process of composing various kinds of narrative rhetoric and of testing the cognitive effects of a narrative.

Rhetorical Cutting Technique: A technique used to irrationally cut film with the intent of creating an irrational relationship between adjacent segments.

Discontinuity Editing: The irrational flow from shot to shot in a film.

Cognitive Transition: The cognitive processing change of a narrative focus, especially the transition from story-based to non-story-based forms of narrative.

Indeterminacy: The irrational relationships between time and character or between place and time within continuous shots.

Rhetorical Transition Technique: A technique used to generate the plurality, the diversity, and the ambiguity with regards to time, space, or characters’ actions in continuous shots.

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