Photo: Still from What is Soul? Dir. David Blandy

Burkhard Stangl, Various Artists & Werner Dafeldecker

Film Programme 2: Sound

Playing with the perceptual boundaries between sound and vision, the films in the programme take the essential and fundamental building blocks of cinema (combining sound and image through time) screw about with them, interrogate them and cast them anew.
 
 
What is Soul?, Dir. David Blandy, UK, 2002, 3 mins, Mini DV
 
What is Soul? shows Blandy sitting on his bed, record player on the windowsill, apparently settling down to listen to a single. However, as soon as Ben E. King starts to sing on the record, Blandy starts to sing along, confronting the viewer with an impassioned performance. This performance, however, is in vain, as all the viewer ever hears is the original song rather than Blandy's voice.
 
 
Strategie, geste et signe, Dir. Pierre-Yves Cruaud, France, 2004, 6 mins 15 secs, DVD
 
A softly buzzing black field is interrupted by a light signal and a penetrating sound. In flashes at irregular intervals, we keep on catching a glimpse of an image. Each time a little more becomes visible, of what looks like a hand, a repeated movement, a gesture. It could be two separate hands meeting up with each other,or even the hands of a conjurer or of someone who gets stuck in a particular word in sign language. Any fluent perception or clear meaning is made impossible for several minutes, but eventually things come together in a gesture: the shaking of two hands.
 
Cruaud's 'videographies' visualize a statement by the German philosopher Leibniz, who says that the minutest of observations, the smallest of confusions and subconscious experiences, contribute to our perception of a whole. In that sense, each perception is an addition, a (re)construction of all the associations, errors, memories and interpretations that we bring to the object being observed. In a manner that is both concrete and abstract, Cruaud depicts how the gathering of information from our surroundings is a process of encountering, processing, editing and deciding. (Esma Moukhtar)
 
 
accelerated lines~, Dir. Manuel Knapp, Austria, 2005, 6 mins 21 secs, BetaSP
 
According to the simple(st) mathematic-geometric definition of space: two points define a straight line, between two lines extends a plane, two planes open up “a” space. In accelerated lines~ by Manuel Knapp, there are at the beginning moments of similarity and reference with regard to these determinants: furthermore, the rendering is fundamentally based on the programming of lines through acceleration, gravity, and friction in an empty virtual space, which means that it is based on “real space” phenomena. Through overlapping the medial foreground and background layers, however, picture surfaces arise, which rather than forming any referential relationship to the tri-axial space, instead formulate their own aesthetic, a unique pictorial spatiality of what is purely visual beyond depiction. 
 
In this work for the draft of threedimensionality, Knapp invokes unforeseeable pictorial manifestations of interference and transgression of threshold values. Blurred movement – a program function for the simulation of movement – a fundamentally cinematographic phenomenon, which Knapp employs supplemental to the animation of the line formations, additionally describes the spatial concept as a category derived from and directed at the picture. An aesthetics of complexity: a “dynamic system,” which no longer follows the idea of order and simplicity, arises in a zone of permanent transition, within the steady slipping off and passing away of the graphic formations. (David Komary)
 
 
Match Box, Dir. Wojciech Bruszewski, Poland, 1975, 5 mins, BetaSP
 
As a founder member of the Lodz Film Academy's radical Workshop of Film Form in the early 70s, Wojciech Bruszewski's multimedia experiments included "YYAA" (screened at KYTN 2003), a 3-minute long primal scream in which changes in light exposure modulate the soundtrack. Other films, like "Match-Box" and "Tea-Spoon" also challenged the viewer by manipulating expectations of synchronous sound and image, and his early video work examines the immediate relationship between camera, monitor and viewer made possible by instant playback or live feed technology. (Lux)
 
Its basic assumption: film as a technique objectively relates what has happened.
The subject-matter of the audio-visual action in the film is a matchbox being tapped on the window-sill. The incident (both the picture and the sound) is being mechanically repeated.
The repeatable section of the picture consists of two takes:
1. A hand tapping a matchbox on the window-sill with the tap itself coming right in the middle of the take (90 frames).
2. An incomplete view of the window (30 frames)
The repeatable section of the picture (take 1+2) remains costant and lasts for 5 seconds (120 frames). The repeatable stretch of sound, in which apart from the tap there is silence, is 5.0833 seconds long (122 frames). With each repetition of the action the sound falls behind the picture by another 0,083 seconds.
 
This means that if in the first audio-visual variant the tapping is synchronous, the next synchronous tap will occur in variant 61.
We are dealing then with a film consisting of 60 different happenings, each and every one of them being the VERY SAME tap of a matchbox on the window-sill.
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What 'exists' and what 'does not exist' in a film is our mind's projection. Our consciousness, under the pressure of what we commonly call culture, becomes liable to those abrupt swings while everything in the film 'is' right there, unwavering.
In its principle this film assumes equality of all the audio-visual variants. This equality, in turn, assumes the impossible possible, yet most importantly it questions the apparently obvious connection between the audio and the visual aspects of absolutely real happenings. (The Workshop Group)
 
 
collider2, Dir. Didi Bruckmayr, Austria, 2005, 4 mins 30 secs, BetaSP
Music: Werner Dafeldecker and Burkhart Stangl
 
A digital construct, as beautiful as a mirror ball, rushes into the viewer's eye. It jumps back violently and begins again with a new start. Accompanied by modified percussion sounds and computer-supported electronics, it continues tirelessly on its repetitive collision course with the viewers' senses. Like a meteorite shower manipulated by an invisible hand, collider2 plumbs the depths of the virtual space and its dynamics. A cosmos is measured and contorted with lines and letters, and - in a state of constant transformation - spits out a ringing geometric landscape. collider2 seems controlled by contemplation and aggression. In black and white shadows, the abstract, reduced matrix occupies a space where science fiction, art, and science say “good night.” 
 
The visual helmsman for collider2 is Didi Bruckmayr, well known for his extreme performances with the bands “Fuckhead” and “Wipeout.” He is flanked by the audio pilots Werner Dafeldecker and Burkhart Stangl. The 3D-multimedia project, which was conceived as the live event Count the Stars in the context of the festival for new music “Wien Modern,” can, in this respect, be specified through a clash of disciplines: live, on-site, the trio feeds its computer with data, which in the course of the performance fuse together according to random and systematic rules. The compo-sition is based on the audio and visual analysis of cosmic material, such as stars and black holes and the electromagnetic rays they emit. Here, the inspiration “outer space” represents a borderless, hierarchically equal interaction of music and image. 
(Petra Erdmann)
 
 
Tea Spoon, Dir. Wojciech Bruszewski, Poland, 1974, 2 mins, BetaSP
 
24 taps of a teaspoon 
on the window sill.
 
A different original sound of the teaspoon tapping on something is ascribed to each and every tap. 
 
Each of the 24 audiovisual happenings (as a film phenomenon) is real. 
 
Each of the 24 audiovisual happenings (as a film phenomenon) is not real.
 
(Wojciech Bruszewski)
 
 
radio_intl. 14/37, Dir. lia, Austria, 2005, 2 mins, BetaSP
 
Minimal is maximal: radio_int.14/37 is formal reduction of the finest kind. From a horizon-tal white line that splits the picture field in the middle, nervous light rays flutter into black ether. In radio_int.14/37, the media artist lia develops a reduced visual composition set to the filigree music from @c. Stimulus for the creation of this work was provided by the Portuguese electronic label Crónica. They invited musicians and video artists from around the world to each create a two minute-long miniature for a CD and DVD compilation on the theme “Essays on Radio: Can I have two minutes of your time?” Radio should hereby offer an artistic reference point as a sound medium, as technology, and as a cultural form of expression. Similar to previous collaborations between @c and lia, also created for radio_int.14/37, the visual level for the already existing soundtrack arose by means of specially programmed re-activated software. At the beginning, one hears only a fine shimmer, an electronic chirp, the light is bundled except for a few flashes of lightning on the horizontal.
 
As though the sound waves were suddenly visible, they increasingly spin a fine net of thin vibrating lines and waves across the screen, which are consistently arrested by the dominant horizontal, the generator, which reacting to acoustic impulses, sends the visual signals off into space like electric eruptions. As the progression of acoustic density continues; the intensity of the light reflexes increases and thus heightens the complexity of the weave of rays. Towards the end, the light flashes again subside to a flat curve, to ultimately dissolve in the whirr of ether. (Gerald Weber)
 
 
Medicine Box, Dir. David Leister, UK, 2004, 11 mins, 16mm
 
Medicine Box is a 16mm film project that takes as its starting point the interior of the medicine cabinet. The doors of the medicine cabinet open revealing its contents. Hands rearrange, remove and add to the collection of pill bottles and medicinal cures stored inside. Blurred bottles float past the screen and quantities of pills are dispensed. Pills of different shapes and sizes are arranged in Morse Code fashion, providing cryptic clues to ‘cure-alls’. The intention of the work is to make the viewer question the necessity of medication, to be aware of its power and to respect the influence that a small pill can have on one’s health. The film is a response to the artist’s own attitude to and experience of medication and the effect it can have within family relationships. It was prompted by a realisation of the difference between necessity, dependency and addiction. (Lux)
 
 
Linear 1, Dir. Tom Bessoir, USA, 1982, 1 min 30 secs, 16mm
 
Choreography for a white line. 
 
 
Eel, Dir. Dave Lee, USA, 1976, 11 mins, 16mm
 
A masterpiece of scratched image and sound. Scratch films are immediately intriguing, but quickly fall into cloying cuteness unless they are tightly organized. They are the hardest films to make. Eel is loved by avant-garde musicians. I was too unnerved to enjoy my 1976 show at Anthology until I saw/heard this work in their earth-wrestling theater. (Dave Lee)
 
 
1/57 Versuch Mit Synthetischem Ton (Test with Synthetic Sound), Dir. Kurt Kren, Austria, 1957, 1 mins 23 secs  , 16mm
 
The word test stands at the beginning of Kren's Versuch mit Synthetischem Ton (Test with Synthetic Sound), which is really a kind of endurance test which Kren poses to the film material and to the eye. The film makes do with a minimum content in its images (a wall, a pan of a cactus) and models chronologically by using a strict, stanzaic montage arrangement, which is supposed, not to push the primary extension of these motivs into the imaginary realm of images, but just to leave them in their own "superficiality." The sound, which is directly engraved onto the material, corresponds to this principle, in that it allows only crackling and scratching noises to be audible, exposes itself in unmodeled raw sound and noise spaces. (Michael Palm)
 
 
Adebar, Dir. Peter Kubelka, Austria, 1957, 1 mins 30 secs, 16mm
 
In Adebar, only certain shot lenghts are used and the image material in the film is combined according to certain rules. For instance, there is a consistent alternation between positive and negative. The film´s images are extremely high contrast black-and-white shots of dancing figures; the images are stripped down to their black-and-white essentials so that they can be used in an almost terrifyingly precise construct of image, motion, and repeated sound (Fred Camper)
 
Kubelka´s works are sound films. Here, at last, is a filmmaker´s ear that creates in contrapunctal accord with his eye in the making. If the projection of Adebar is perfectly synced the experience is an indescribably new one for any with eyes and ears to see/hear it. (Stan Brakhage)
 
 
Malanga, Dir. A Keewatin Dewdney, Canada, 1967, 3 mins, 16mm
 
Gerard Malanga reads his poetry for 24 frames, dances to Velvet Underground for 24 frames, reads for 23 frames, dances for 23 frames, reads for 22 frames, etc., until he is doing both things alternately one frame at a time. An experiment in Audio-visual synaesthesia called Discontinuous film. No frame is missed however brief its exposure because the synthaesthesia increases efficiency of both eye and ear. (Keewatin Dewdney)
 
 
Soundtrack, Dir. Barry Spinello, USA, 1969, 9 mins 30 secs, 16mm
 
Black and white with some color hand-applied to each print, hand-painted image, hand-painted sound. 
 
I think every student of film should, early in his studies, make a film such as SOUNDTRACK; namely, a film in which sound and image are conceived together as a unit and painted one frame at a time. The advantages for students of handpainting sound and image are threefold: 1. the expense involved is minimal. 2. there is no time lag between the conception of an idea and its realization and screening (no lab wait, etc.) 3. ideas can be expanded, modified and changed immediately and directly after viewing. A basic feel for audio-visual space-timing and the grammar of the frame can be learned in this way. (Filmmakers’ Co-op)
 
 
Microfilm, Dir. Tom Bessoir, USA, 1979, 1 min, 16mm
 
The concept of putting microfilm in a movie projector. A bombardment of information. 
 
 
Just a Minute Yoko, Dir. Bea de Visser, The Netherlands, 2004, 1 min, 35mm
 
Ten independent filmmakers presented a one minute film each, commissioned by the International Film Festival Rotterdam, under the heading Just a Minute that one can judge as a sample of filmic possibilities. Jaap Blonk's phonetic pronunciation of a chapter by Guy de Cointet delivers a new invented language that provides the images with an 
incomprehensible comment. (Bea de Visser)
 
Below are some online links which you can use for reference. To see the films in their original glory, check with the distributors of the films for their terms and conditions.