This workpiece is inspired by the lecture “Cinema as Ear”(Moving Images Unit – Cultural and Theoretical Studies ) by Chris de Selincourt on the 31st January 2017 at London College of Communication.
“Sound Waves” Illustration by Nicole Afonso Alves Calistri
The maturity of the avant-garde arts during the 30’s influenced European filmmakers to create a medium specificity for Cinema: a movement to detach the later from any other artistic form and create its own Artistic identity. Per hitherto filmmakers, Cinema had lost its purity by merging with sound, literature, stage and other practices.
The Pure Cinema movement aimed to minimalize story and plot while focusing on filmic techniques to create visual rhythm and interest, thus indulging the original prerequisites of Moving Images.
However, it is highly arguable that skill and technique are the prerequisites to creating Art. Indeed, skills and techniques are the means, yet not what makes art, Art.
Picasso, for example, had unconventional skills; however, he is objectively recognised as the artist who revolutionised contemporary Art. Michelangelo’s work is appreciated worldwide for its beauty and aesthetics, but what makes it Art is the attempt of the author to reach the mass through the elite’s commissions.
The relation sound-cinema evidences senses and emotions – it enhances the intangible and delivers abstract ideas and sensations to the audience. To make Cinema Art is to make Cinema Human.
Žižek (1994) argued that sound hearing is more crucial than seeing for our bodily sense of orientation, even from a physiological standpoint: it is through sound that we first experience the world. “We begin to hear before we are born, four and a half months after conception. From then on, we develop in a continuous and luxurious bath of sounds […]: the close and liquid world of uterine darkness” (Walter Murch in Young, 2015, pp 4)
Under Murch’s perspective, the sound is amply human – through the technique, we reproduce nature and create harmonic vibrations, and through our mind, we receive, connect and introduce sound to the meanderings of our mind. The sound is part of the protection humans receive in the womb. It is part of our being before we experience the trauma of life. Therefore, sound is needed to make Cinema Human.
Young, M. (2015). Singing the body electric. 1st ed. New York: Routledge.
Beaver, F. (2006). Dictionary of film terms. 1st ed. New York: Peter Lang, pp.23,24,39-40,90.