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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2017

Walton’s “Vivacity” and Cinematic Realism

From the book Aesthetics Today
David Wagner

Abstract

If we consider fictional motion pictures as props in a game of make-believe (Walton 1990), it should be irrelevant whether these films aim at a high degree of verisimilitude. Walton claims that in order to use depictions as fictions what we need is not co-identity with natural appearance, but a sufficient amount of “richness” and “vivacity” for our spontaneous imaginings to arise. - Filmmaker Peter Jackson’s use of HFR technologies together with CGI and 3D in his Hobbit-Trilogy has led movie audiences to reject the new “life-like” images in favour of ordinary cinematic experience. Jackson’s foray into new screening technologies seems to produce experiences one needs to get used to. Central to this essay is the notion that the experience of realism is relative to the observer and very likely an acquired habit. This claim, made earlier already by Jakobson (1987), Steinberg (1972), and Goodman (1976), raises the question of how we come to employ Walton’s criteria of richness and vivacity. Is the persuasive power of images conventional too?

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