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Rethinking art, media, and the audio-visual contract

There is no soundtrack is a specific yet expansive study of sound tactics deployed in experimental media art today. It analyses how audio and visual elements interact and produce meaning, drawing from works by contemporary media artists ranging from Chantal Akerman, to Nam June Paik, to Tanya Tagaq. It then links these analyses to discussions on silence, voice, noise, listening, the soundscape, and other key ideas in sound studies. In making these connections, the book argues that experimental media art – avant-garde film, video art, performance, installation, and hybrid forms – produces radical and new audio-visual relationships that challenge and destabilize the visually-dominated fields of art history, contemporary art criticism, cinema and media studies, and cultural studies as well as the larger area of the human sciences. This book directly addresses what sound studies scholar Jonathan Sterne calls ‘visual hegemony’. It joins a growing body of interdisciplinary scholarship that is collectively sonifying the study of culture while defying the lack of diversity within the field by focusing on practitioners from transnational and diverse backgrounds. Therefore, the media artists discussed in this book are of interest to scholars and students who are exploring aurality in related disciplines including gender and feminist studies, queer studies, ethnic studies, postcolonial studies, urban studies, environmental analysis, and architecture. As such, There Is No Soundtrack makes meaningful connections between previously disconnected bodies of scholarship to build new, more complex and reverberating frameworks for the study of art, media, and sound.

Questioning gender roles
Brigitte Rollet

role of a female extraterrestrial (Mila), widow and mother of five, sent to Earth to see what is going on. What could have been an interesting element (namely that she is half extraterrestrial and half earthwoman) is soon forgotten. The opening sequence which recalls Zefirelli’s Jésus de Nazareth (1976), and which is anyway highly biblical, gives the tone. Not that we are entering the realm of religious dogma, but more that we are in the sphere of the sacred. What is sacred here is the earth which gives and produces, a wonderful

in Coline Serreau
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Rethinking the audio-visual contract
Ming-Yuen S. Ma

commonly held misconceptions that essentialize the differences between hearing and seeing into binary oppositions, based on Christian religious dogma. According to Sterne, the audiovisual litany ‘idealizes hearing (and by extension, speech) as manifesting a kind of pure interiority’, and ‘it alternately denigrates and elevates vision: as a fallen sense, vision takes us out of the world. But it also bathes us in the clear light of reason.’ 30 Chion’s audiovisual contract similarly excludes the consideration of other senses in favor of an exclusive coupling. Chion

in There is no soundtrack