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Rethinking art, media, and the audio-visual contract
Author: Ming-Yuen S. Ma

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.

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Listening to installation and performance
Ming-Yuen S. Ma

practices in narrative film sound were developed, debated, and standardized within the Hollywood studio system. Through his research, Lastra identifies two competing approaches to situating an audience sonically in Classical Hollywood cinema: that of the invisible and ideal auditors. As its name suggests, the invisible auditor approach situates the audience of a film as if they are on set during the filming of the sequence they are watching. This was the initial approach taken by the first film sound engineers who were hired from the telephony and recording industries to

in There is no soundtrack
John Mundy and Glyn White

constructions of femininity offered in classical Hollywood cinema are not severely limited or to suggest that the female body is not fetishised and exploited. Yet a restatement of Mulvey’s argument in the context of film comedy must recognise that a female star’s iconicity is not merely a product of the camera, but depends both on the qualities of the individual actor and on investment in it by an audience

in Laughing matters