Creative Practice, Cognition, and Feminist Film Histories

by Karen Pearlman (Macquarie University)

Abstract: This paper presents a brief overview of my recent research into editing, cognition, and feminist film histories. It argues that written archival documents are insufficient records of embodied and embedded forms of expertise. It proposes that sufficient recognition of expert work requires a richer understanding of process. Creative practice research can help to achieve this through exploration and communication of ideas in the creative media in which the historical subjects of the research were actually working. Examples of this methodology are seen in my documentary After the Facts and stylised biopic Woman with an Editing Bench, excerpts of which are included in this paper. My aim is to re-position women’s input into the development of film form, moving away from historicising it as ‘helping’ or ‘assisting’, and theorising particular women editors in early film as engaged participants in the embodied and embedded processes that generate creative ideas.

Karen Pearlman is a Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney where she researches feminist film histories, creative process, and distributed cognition. She is also an award-winning Filmmaker, a Director of The Physical TV Company, and the author of Cutting Rhythms, Intuitive Film Editing (Focal Press, 2016).