Screendance as enactment in Maya Deren’s At Land
Enactive, embodied, and neurocinematic considerations
The dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker Maya Deren can be seen as one of the pioneers of screendance. Her experimental films have challenged conventional plot- driven mainstream cinema by emphasizing an ambiguous experience, open for multiple interpretations. For Deren film viewing is a socially determined ritual embodying intersubjectively shared experiences of participants. This makes her films particularly interesting for today’s neurocinematic studies. Deren’s ideas also anticipate the recent enactive mind approach, according to which the body-brain system is in an inseparable manner situated and coupled with the world through interaction. It assumes that both private, such as perception and cognition, and intersubjective aspects of human enactment, such as culture, sciences, or the arts, are based on the embodiment of life experience. Reflecting this discourse, Deren’s film At Land is analyzed as an expression of a human body-brain system situated and enactive within the world, with references to neuroscience, neurocinematic studies, and screendance.
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