Contemporary music and film images have a common history that is illustrated throughout the 20th century by the richness and the audiovisual creation that resulted from their meeting. In the film context, contemporary music extends now from the sphere of experimental film and avant-garde film, and reaches today a larger audience in fiction movies, but also in the way of creative documentary and independent cinema. The influence of concrete and electroacoustic music since 1945, the impact of the American minimalist movement from 1960-1970, the emergence of postmodernism in the 1980s are the milestones that have increased tenfold the scope of audiovisual dialogue opportunities.
This essay recounts a visit to Ryoji Ikeda’s inaugural exhibition at the HeK
(Haus der elektronischen Künste) in Basel, Switzerland in November 2014. It aims to
bring an inhabited sensibility to works made from information processes whose code is at
once their material texture and conceptual legitimacy. Through the particularity of her
recounting, the author critically engages with her experience of the works as environment in
relation to Ikeda’s own ideas of a mathematical sublime put into contrast with Immanuel
Kant’s notion of the sublime; and consider the mathematical purity Ikeda’s work pursues in
relation to Quentin Meillassoux’s notion of a mind-independent world. Most particularly, the
author engages in the relationship between the visualisation of data and its sonic
composition, and recognises their connection as a central tension of the work into which she
places Étienne Balibar’s portmanteau term “égaliberté,” the impossible reciprocity between
equality and freedom.
Celebrated as much for his essays on cinematic soundtracks as for his concrete music compositions, Michel Chion (b. 1947) is also developing a body of cinematographic and video work that constitutes an extension of his musical writing. An encyclopedic work spanning two and a half hours, La Messe de Terre is a true “audio-logo-visual liturgy” combining concrete music with a very sophisticated assembly of images. If the work is dominated by the caesura, the incongruity between what we see and what we hear, the two elements steadily converge into a common “architecture of time.” At the very edge of the mass form, we find traces of a video self-portrait combining home movie and work journal.
By mixing the words of seven contemporary composers (Brasset, Calon, Fano, Lepage, Lizée, Lussier, Piché), this survey questions the interactions between the visual movements and the sound fluctuations, the stakes of the musical composition for the image, the singular characteristics of the audiovisual perception and the effects of the image (material or mental) on the process of composition. By listening to these composers describing their approach of creation, we discover that the image can be an energy, a concrete material, a substratum, a resultant of the musical listening, a historic artefact, a score, a narrative vector, one stratum in a multimedia complex…
Christian Calon’s film-installation Continental Divide (2013) asks the
question “What is the time of a very large space?”. This paper questions the work itself to
see how it tries to answer this question. By putting into resonance Calon’s discourse
regarding his work, a description of the materials comprising the work and a descriptive
restitution of my own experience of the work, it explores how 1) a singular composing of
sound and image, 2) a specific mode of diffusion, and 3) their encounter with a listening
subject can render possible the audiovisual experience of “the time of a very large