Film of Sound

By and | 1 April 2013

Film of Sound is a collaborative multimedia video work.

Electronic art video and interactive works generally prioritise image over sound; this is also the case in commercial culture at large. In Film of Sound, however, sound was chosen to be the initiator – sometimes even the driver – of the text and visual processes at work in the piece. The three collaborators involved are Will Luers (video composition), Hazel Smith (text) and Roger Dean (sonic composition). During the first stage of developing the piece, Dean created two sound compositions, and Luers and Smith began generating responses to them. After a considerable exchange of materials, an overall structure was agreed. All the contributors then revised, extended and amalgamated their materials to create a multi-layered but coherent whole.

Film of Sound is a semiotic surface, a skin of image and text on the body of sound. Through the interweaving of text, sound and image – sometimes complementary, sometimes antithetical – the work explores a number of continua from the pre-verbal to the articulated, from the glimpse to the gaze, from noise to music.

Constructed out of collaborative, indeterminate and remix processes, the layers and juxtapositions of disparate media hint at a narrative trajectory – a sleeping man, an evening in a hotel room, and a journey across vast and challenging spaces. But the incipient narrative constantly breaks down into disordered memories of violence and repression, undefined threats, splintered subjectivities, glitches and raw data.

In the video the texts are mainly displayed in blocks that are coloured, layered and angled. Though sometimes only partially and swiftly shown, some of these text blocks are repeated through the piece. This means that different parts of a textual fragment can be read at different times, and that understanding and comprehension gradually build even while the sense of mystery persists. The words are not, with some exceptions, closely coordinated with the visual images, rather they convey a strong emotional undertow, a nightmare scenario of surveillance, claustrophobia, disorientation and decay. The words are drawn from two sets of texts each made up of short non-linear poetic fragments.

Film of Sound was screened at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in December 2011 and 2012 as part of austraLYSIS performances, and was chosen for the Electronic Literature Organisation’s New Media Show in Morgantown, US, July 2012. It has also been screened in Auckland, Romania and New Mexico.

In performance, the sound of the piece is in four channels, creating an enveloping acoustic experience. Presented here is the video is offered in two-channel stereo for online delivery.

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