Documentary editing and distributed cognition

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter aims to reveal, from a cognitive perspective, what docu- mentary editing is and how it works as a creative action in filmmaking. It proposes that the editing of documentary film is a cognitive process of perceiving or imagining potential structure and rhythm in a mass of unscripted material and then shaping that material into a significant form.1 Further, in this process, editors, directors and the raw, uncut filmed material are all contributors to the generation of ideas. Shaping raw material into a coherent documentary film, this chapter will argue, is not work done solely in the brain; rather, it is the work of an “extended mind” (Clark and Chalmers 1998; Clark 2008) and requires a complementary activation of brain, body and the “film objects” (Vertov 1984) themselves.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCognitive theory and documentary film
EditorsCatalin Brylla, Mette Kramer
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783319903323
ISBN (Print)9783319903316
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Film Editing
  • Creative process
  • Cognition
  • Collaboration
  • Distributed cognition
  • epistemic action
  • Alan Berliner
  • Kate Amend
  • Film Editors

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  • Cite this

    Pearlman, K. (2018). Documentary editing and distributed cognition. In C. Brylla, & M. Kramer (Eds.), Cognitive theory and documentary film (pp. 303-319). London: Palgrave Macmillan.