Actions in Slow Motion: Theoretical and Methodological Reflections on Temporality in Actions and Intersubjective Understanding
This article examines the connection between actions, temporality, and media-based observation. Slow motion technology is currently being used especially in sports to examine and evaluate athletes’ actions more precisely in order to identify potential infringements of rules. Starting with a phenomenological perspective, this article engages in a critical assessment of the degree to which the intentions underlying athletes’ actions become clearer if their actions are slowed down using slow motion. It transpires that a more in-depth understanding is not possible because the process of time-stretching using media technology tends to obscure intersubjective understanding. Nevertheless, the use of different playback speeds does increase observers’ sensitivity to the temporality of action and observation. This is particularly the case when greater emphasis is placed on the body and its role in the formation and carrying out of intentions. With the phenomenological view and in special consideration of the body and the subjective intentionality, the paper contributes to a discussion about the connection of time and (inter-)action already led in ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. These findings mark a contribution to empirical social research as well, which is increasingly using video material in action analysis and should take slow motion as a possible augmented but also manipulated access to actions into account adequately. To this end, this article suggests a method for identifying the merits and demerits of using slow motion to analyse actions, and discusses the methodological implications of temporality in observation.