The strand of film studies that engage with the material experience of cinema-going has largely been subordinated to the textually focused Marxist, psychoanalytic and semiotic paradigms. Such approaches, however, are based on monolithic assumptions regarding how the configuration of spectator, space, and projected image on screen – the ‘dispositif' (Baudry 1975, Deleuze 1992 Bellour 2000, Martin 2011) – forges a unique and essential cinematic experience. In turn, a hegemony of sanctioned viewing practice - the quiet, concentrated, immersed, reverential viewer - has been socially ingrained by interrelated commercial, cultural and academic forces. The transformational effect of the digital age, particularly the advent of Web 2.0 communicative technologies, is having an unsettling effect on the hegemony of the traditional dispositif, particularly in terms of the constitution, status and active role of the film audience. Interactive spectatorship practices such as ‘second screening', using social media platforms like twitter, although commonplace during television or online viewing, have largely been kept out of the auditorium with the purity of the dispositif still dominant. However, the encroachment of communications technologies into the auditorium space is occurring, both in terms of illicit, disruptive practices, but also through specifically designed cinematic phenomena that look to reform, expand and reconceptualise the experiential mechanics of cinema spectatorship. The article documents the methodological development, pilot screenings and initial findings of a research project entitled "interactive spectatorships" which deploys a second-screen configuration in the cinema auditorium projecting a Twitter-feed of audience comments alongside a film as it is screened in real-time. The article interrogates initial findings collated from a range of participant responses (largely undergraduate film students) which coalesced around themes of engagement, immersion, active v passive viewing, in the concept of media interactivity, the notion of communal viewing, and how social media is reconstituting the doing and being of spectatorship and audiences.
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|Published - 30 Nov 2017