This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This essay discusses the separation between image and sound inaugurated with the introduction of sound recording technology in the late nineteenth century. Two areas are explored in depth: the development of sound-based art maximally divorced from the image and postrecording technology art forms that recombine sound and image in new ways. The latter part of the essay focuses on artistic sound/image relationships inherent in digital media.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This essay argues that contemporary digital media present forms of space, time, and rhythm that we haven’t seen. These new forms bear some similarities to contemporary experiences like work speedup, multitasking, and just-in-time labor. One can only guess why this is happening and its causes and effects. A Frankfurt School perspective might note that forms of entertainment replicate labor so we can better toil under oppressive conditions. Marshall McLuhan might claim that the digital has infiltrated entertainment, finance, and labor; hence, there’s a homology between them. This essay suggests that both perspectives grasp something: becoming more aware of the patterns of space, time, and rhythm in media and in work speedup might help us to adapt to social change. We might even work to train our forms of attention so that we can handle the shocks of contemporary society with more grace, care, and awareness.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This chapter develops a poetic perspective to analyze the unusual sound, image, and narrational structures of Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006). A poetic perspective examines how a film is made (rather than trying to work out what it means). This chapter examines the decision-making process that has gone into the construction of the film’s complex aural and visual narrative world: specifically, the issue of how shots and scenes are joined in Inland Empire to create a complex ambiguous world of multiple intersecting layers.
Many online video games nowadays feature voice-chat capabilities that enable players to speak with one another through microphones connected to computers and gaming consoles. Players who speak out via voice-chat telegraph ambiguous bodies and often end up participating (willingly or not) in instances of identity assimilation, repression, deception, and revelation. This chapter examines how voice technologies in online games compel players to negotiate practices of domination, masquerade, and passing through acts of speech and silence. Attempts here to put pressure on voice-body relations speak to a broader effort to reassess conventional theories of the voice as a site of authentic and agentic expression. The chapter will conclude by considering the sexual politics of voice-chat in the audibly male-dominated communities of online first-person-shooter games.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This essay examines a growing number of filmmakers who construct personal sound aesthetics that rework the rules of sound and image relations. This trend has emerged over the past decade, and it finds global filmmakers engaged in a revitalization of the affective powers of film sound in a digitally converged world. Under consideration are issues of sound authorship, acoustic markers of cultural identity, how sound tropes circulate transnationally, and whether the rules governing sound and image are culturally determined.
Acting and singing have often been considered incompatible activities, but most successful operatic performances depend in part on successful acting. Acting in opera is, however, different from acting in spoken drama. Realistic characterization is often difficult to achieve when acting with music, and often the formal gestures of a more rhetorical representation are more appropriate. A more vivid style of acting was initiated with the bel canto opera early in the nineteenth century, and later verismo opera required acting that brought out the unconscious motivation of characters. Wagner, Stanislavski, and Felsenstein all developed a style of acting that reflected the psychology of the character and encouraged ensemble. Modern operatic performance incorporates a variety of styles, but a combination of realism and minimalism may be most effective on stage. Callas’s performance in Act 2 of Tosca and Nicholas Lehnhoff’s production of Parsifal are analyzed.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics edited by John Richardson, Claudia Gorbman, and Carol Vernallis. This chapter uses textual analysis of the music video “Umbrella,” featuring Rihanna, to demonstrate the intricacies of sound and image synchronization. It argues that music highlights subject positions according to the viewer’s expectations, assessment, and understanding of the displayed subject. Rihanna’s erotic imagery forms a critical point for contemplating the pop artist’s physical responses to music. One central ingredient of most video performances is disclosed by the suggestive positioning of the gendered body, which extends far beyond everyday experience. Such notions are theorized through aspects of hyperembodiment and hypersexuality, wherein the technological constructedness of the body constitutes a prime part of video production. The aesthetics of performance are predicated on the reassemblance of the body audiovisually. Editing, production, and technology shape the images, which are stimulated by musical sound, and ultimately the audiovisual flow in pop videos mediates a range of conventions that say much about our ever-evolving cultural domains.
This article investigates the aesthetic conclusions that the Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller draw from the basic phenomenon of listening—such as the “horizon of simultaneity” of sound and vision—in their own creation of their audio- and video-walks. It describes how their work functions as social experiments in the public sphere. The thesis is that their works “vampirize” sounds and actively assimilate them to natural acoustic tracks and traces, thus becoming affective traps for their pursuers. Cardiff and Miller lead the participants astray in their desire to actually “see” what is “only” to be heard. Thus an uncanny criminology of artificially laid traces is to be predicated on the seductiveness of the disembodied human voice as guiding narrative. Cardiff’s and Miller’s intriguing art form improvises a new way across the ravages of time by inventing new vestiges of the past.
The Afterword, positioned as it is at the rear of the Handbook, presents itself as a study of the conceptualization and application of the notion of virtuality found in the preceding 45 chapters. It does so by discussing four binarisms: reality and world; unreal and real; emic and etic; and utopia and dystopia. Through these four binarisms, the chapters' key themes are assessed and debated and questions of the virtual and digital are discussed as they relate to questions of society and culture change.
Alternative Virtuality: Independent Micro Labels Facing the Ideological Challenge of Virtual Music Culture—The Case of Finnish Ektro Records
This chapter examines virtual music culture from the viewpoint of an independent micro label, Ektro Records, based in Finland. Micro labels are small record producers who subscribe to uncompromising aesthetic and countercultural ideologies. These labels have a complex relationship with virtual music culture, which undermines their economic infrastructure and challenges their subversive position as cultural producers. Although the globalization and elimination of intermediaries by virtual media has advantaged micro labels, labels specializing in physical formats such as Ektro Records are affected by declining sales. Furthermore, micro labels have to compete with the free distribution promoted in the virtual music culture at providing alternatives to the music industry and defending artistic autonomy from commodification. However, it is argued that there is still a need for micro labels in the virtual music culture, and their continuing usefulness to micro labels such as Ektro.