There was a ridiculous error today on the part of NUA leading to my group of students sitting in an empty room waiting for a lecturer who was sitting in another room on the other side of the city centre. Because of that, we merged groups with the one next door and I got to properly meet Rob Hillier for the first time.

Despite the delay and the change in circumstances, I quite enjoyed sitting with the new group and found it quite interesting to hear about the work that others were doing. It didn’t relate to my field at all, but sometimes just a new set of ears can offer something different. I discussed my three project proposals and everyone seemed keen and offered a few suggestions where they could.

Layered City Soundscape

I’ve been thinking about this idea for a while now, and how important the visuals may or may not be. What I’m considering now, rather than a few static shots, is a journey through the city consisting of still photography, in a time lapse manner. The audio would be captured in a similar way, with various parts of the city being louder or quieter depending on the day, and that total soundscape would act almost like a beating heart of the city, rising and falling through the day. The original aspect of individual audio tracks could still be incorporated too, but their presentation would be more elegant than simply fading them in and out randomly.

The other students in my group were intrigued by this option, and offered a few ideas which might make the visuals as interesting as the audio components. The static shot timelapse was suggested by someone as a way of tracking how the city changes over time. It was an idea I liked, but I wanted to present a journey as a means of signifying a change in geography as well as sound, so I merged the two ideas.

Film is a visual medium, so how important is sound anyway?

I read a quote recently from games designer Jesse Schell which read:

Sound is what truly convinces the mind that it is in a place; in other words, hearing is believing.

(The Art of Game Design, 2015, Jesse Schell)

The idea of replacing moving images with still photography is to see if the above quote really holds true. Can I capture the realism and authenticity of a place through sound as the primary sensory stimuli?

Confessions Interviews

I want to make a short film which plays with the relationship between image and sound. My idea is about the information that audiences take from a scene, and how reliable it can be considered if the sound being heard doesn’t match the image being seen. The theme of the film will be confessions, and the idea is that people will confess something on screen, but the voice being heard, nor the confession being read, will belong to the person on screen.

How does the relationship between image and sound affect the information taken in by the audience?

The audience’s reading of any given piece of art is always influenced by a set of preconceived assumptions and expectations which have been learned through social and cultural means. In his book Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen, Michael Chion calls this “audiovisual illusion”. He says that audiences essentially make the assumption of a link before being presented with the audio-visual scene. They believe, especially in cinema, that what they see is related to what they hear. He calls this ‘casual listening’. (Audio-vision: Sound on Screen, 1994, Michael Chion)

My idea is to play with this preconception and make audience question if there really is a link between what they are seeing and what they are hearing.

Study of an Artist

The final idea was one that has been in my head for a while, and it’s the audio-visual representation of another artist’s work though documentary and interview. This would essentially be a montage piece that captures an everyday moment in time for the artist (Laure).

The other students liked this idea a lot and commented on the amount of levels that could be put to work in the film. The documentary aspect would capture someone at work, but they way in which those visuals are presented would be an artistic choice in and of itself. Likewise, the audio might just be a recorded interview, but the way the interview is conducted, the languages it uses, the way the are reconstructed in the edit, are all artistic choices I will have to make. The attempt to blur the documentary genre with something more artistic both highlights and challenges the divide between the genres, pushing my understanding of what each can be.

Is it possible to blend the abstract concept of montage with the pure naturalism of documentary film?

In this particular film, I’ll be attempting to document the actual process during which an artist works and creates, yet also trying to capture the essence of the artist and the art, and reflect that in my own work. There is an interesting piece on the BFI website on what is termed an ‘essay film’ – one which centres around a theme rather than a plot, and I think that sort of sums up what I’d be trying to do with this.