Movement, Attention and Movies: the Possibilities and Limitations of Eye Tracking?

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Movies often present a rich encapsulation of the diversity of complex visual information and other sensory qualities and affordances that are part of the worlds we inhabit. Yet we still know little about either the physiological or experiential elements of the ways in which people view movies. In this article we bring together two approaches that have not commonly been employed in audience studies, to suggest ways in which to produce novel insights into viewer attention: through the measurement of observer eye movements whilst watching movies; in combination with an anthropological approach to understanding vision as a situated practice. We thus discuss how both eye movement studies that investigate complex media such as movies need to consider some of the important principles that have been developed for sensory ethnography, and in turn how ethnographic and social research can gain important insights into aspects of human engagement from the emergence of new technologies that can better map how an understanding of the world is constructed through sensory perceptual input. We consider recent evidence that top down mediated effects like narrative do promote significant changes in how people attend to different aspects of a film, and thus how film media combined with eye tracking and ethnography may reveal much about how people build understandings of the world.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRefractory: a journal of entertainment media
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

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