The States Lens

Mark Allan Kaplan Aesthetic, Article, Cognitive, Uncategorized

Having previously explored the HOLONIC LENS, the QUADRATIC LENS, and the DEVELOPMENTAL LENS , this time we will explore the STATES LENS.

In addition to developmental Lines and Levels, each quadrant also contains STATES, transient shifts in various inner and outer dimensions including:

  • Experiential states (i.e., psychological, emotional)
  • Physical states (i.e., biological, behavioral)
  • Relational states (i.e., cultural, communication)
  • Social and environmental system states (i.e., weather, economic).

In a cinematic work, at the most basic level, these various human reality states can be captured and replicated to some degree through text, image, and sound. For example, we can visually and auditorily capture a storm (a weather state), and add the text/story of a person trying to get out of its way, including how this person is reacting (i.e., a fearful emotional state).

A closer look at this process through the States Lens reveals that a cinematic work can have various kinds of states in addition to the above human reality states including:

  • TEXTUAL STATES – character emotional states (joy, sadness, etc.), character relationship states (attraction, aversion, etc.), and narrative event states (suspense, ambiguity, etc);
  • VISUAL STATES – visual contrast or affinity, static imagery, frenetic movement, etc;
  • AUDITORY STATES – harmony, dissonance, silence, etc;
  • TEMPORAL STATES – linear time, nonlinear time, flashbacks, etc.

These four general categories of states correlate to the four quadrants when we look at a cinematic work from the perspective of its Constructed Cinematic Reality, or the level at which we are immersed in its projected world.

From this perspective, we tend to perceive the image as the primary objectivedimension. The text tends to be perceived as the invisible interior (subjective) dimension that animates and emanates from this observable visual world, giving it its meaning, purpose, value, and emotional context. The dimension of sound is primarily experienced as an invisible force that extends the invisible interior emotional and meaning dimension of text beyond the screen and into our subjective experiential field, establishing a shared intersubjective relationship between our interior and the interior dimensions of the Constructed Cinematic Reality. The dimension of time is generally experienced as the observable systemic (interobjective) unfolding of the Constructed Cinematic Reality (Kaplan, 2010).

States and their depiction in film

When these four realms of cinematic reality states are combined in a skillful way by the cinematic artist, their coordinated expression can replicate the multidimensional sensory stimulation of actual lived-experience, and in so doing heighten and transform the cinematic experience into a deeply immersive state-inducing experience for the viewer. This process is what Russian film theorist Sergei Eisenstein referred to as the synchronization of the senses (For more on this see my 2010 JITP article Toward an Integral Cinema).

The Fountain (2006) and the Synchronization of Textual, Visual, Auditory, and Temporal Cinematic States.

A recent example of this cinematic-reality-state sensory-synchronization process can be seen in the feature film The Fountain (2006), in which the main character is transported into a profound other-worldly state experience that is supported by corresponding visual, auditory, and temporal cinematic state structures, giving the audience a multi-dimensional felt-sense of the character’s inner-state journey.

The States Lens is one of the most important lenses, in that it is the gateway to understanding and mastering the immersive potential of the cinema. In and of themselves, individual cinematic states and their combination into Sensory Synchronization States have the capacity for powerful audience state induction; when masterfully combined with the other lenses of cinematic perception and expression, they have the potential to powerfully effect individual and collective perception and behavior for both higher and lower purposes, from commercial and political propaganda to the catalyzing of shifts in stages of human development and the evolution of both individual and collective consciousness.

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About Mark Kaplan

Mark Allan Kaplan, Ph.D. is a Transdisciplinary Artist, Filmmaker, Researcher, Consultant, Educator and Media Psychologist focusing on Integral, Transpersonal, and Transformative approaches to Art, Media, and Spirituality. Mark is currently exploring various applications of Integral Theory, including the research and development of an Integral approach to cinematic media theory and practice.