Directors: Granular Synthesis
Year: 2001
Time: 20 mins
Music: Granular Synthesis
Eye of Sound: Commissioned for the Venice Biennial in 2001, Reset was an audiovisual installation addressing problems in the relation between colour and sound, and was here "remixed" for home consumption. The Austrian duo (Kurt Hentschlaeger and Ulf Langheinrich) have in fact focused much of their output on definitions of synaesthetic processes through creative uses of synthetic technology. In the Biennale, Reset was composed of two semi-giant screens, each exhibiting one basic looped visual track. These "tracks" comprised a succession of synthesised audiovisual samples produced, according to Langheinrich, through the "consecutive synthesis of individual samples" rather than through "a pre-arranged sound-image relation". Reset Remixed fuses these two separate tracks in order to create an alarmingly intense audiovisual experience in which the throbbing parade of visual and sonic chromatic tonalities results in a coherent composition that does not betray the fractured nature of its materials. Each colour is associated with a given sound (or vice-versa), thought to be warmer or colder according to a idiosyncratic scale, resulting in a dazzling chain of colour pulses and aural throbs. Each frame is thus a perceptual object vibration in itself, but their succession results in an immersive, seamless whole that affords no discontinuity.
- Film kindly offered by Damayanti via email -
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GÉMINGA (2003)

Director: Hugo Verlinde
Year: 2003
Time: 9 mins
Music: Hugo Verlinde
Eye of Sound: A "sequel" to Verlinde's 2001 work Aldebaran, Géminga continues to explore relations between surface and projection, light and dark, body and environment. Surrounded by a carefully crafted cascade of environmental recordings, a body is used as a surface for the projection of chromatic textures and images of unrecognisable provenience: abstract light-designs that find a temporary resting point on skin. In its visual elusiveness and absorbing function, this body is given a strange sense of frailty, as if powerless before the aural and plastic siege within which it has been placed. At the same time, its own carnality seems to be overcome, rendered both insignificant in its role as a reflection surface for subtler realities and almost shapeless in its task as a mere vessel or host for more fluid levels of being.
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MIRAGES (2010)

        Director: Sabrina Ratté
Year: 2010
Time: 18 mins
Music: Le Révélateur
Eye of Sound: One of the most promising names in Canadian experimental film today, Sabrina Ratté has been exploring the mysteries of colour, contour and shape in moving images for nearly a decade. Not afraid to frame filmic experiments as such, her films usually convey a sense of discovery and risk but also of conceptual focus and matured observation of materials, often betraying an acute awareness of video-art history and sources. Mirages was born of an ongoing collaboration with Montréal-based musician Le Révélateur: having been projected at several of his live performances, it evolved and metamorphosed in a concert immersion context which is, I believe, hinted at throughout the film. Working, as in other films, with relatively simple materials and a contemplative stance, Ratté begins by exploring the flickering movement of light and its distortion as it is translated into the digital realm, using chromatic excess as a means to corrupt her sources' integrity. These somewhat inform images of natural events slowly morph into geometric grids with which moving human silhouettes are later juxtaposed before we are finally sent back to the abstract shapes that opened the film, now harmonised with these colour-looms and figurative forms. Perhaps intended as a veiled tribute to the video-art tradition of the 70s (a connection which could be said to be reinforced by Révélateur's "library"-reminiscent soundtrack), Mirages is an aptly chosen title for this work, as its optical explosions seem to be built like an inquiry into some of our perception habits and a test to their limits.
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Director: Edward Quist
Year: 2008
Time: 3 X 38 mins
Music: Pan Sonic
Eye of Sound: Still known as Panasonic among old friends, Vainio and Väisänen are known to produce some of the most intensely cold music since the glorious days of NDW. Their blend of glacial pulse-beat aggression (inherited from their early weirdo-techno experiences), white-noise static and hi-fi aural spatialisation (closer to "avant-garde" concerns)  has given the Finnish duo some notoriety both in the experimental music circuit and among the ultimately conservative electronica crowd, creating a rather heterodox support basis for the band. Inspired in the imagery of the cathode (something which seems to be acquiring some currency in the past years), american artist Edward Quist offers a "multi-angle" reading of Panasonic's music by drawing on a 1999 live performance in New York (these "angles" being here divided in separate files). The screen space is mercilessly invaded by violent graphics designed to translate, or respond to, Panasonic's static washes and often brutal pulses, its unembellished black and white compositions aptly reflecting the band's bleak soundworld. Its strobing punctuations, though obviously inspired by the obsolete tradition of techno videography, can be physically deranging and mentally exhausting, miles away from the flat landscapes offered by those standardised forms of mindless pseudo-psychedelism that are still served as a visual accompaniment to beat-oriented music. In fact, Quist's sinister waveform designs are systematically distorted and pushed to their own figurative limits, aiming, much like the duo's aural excitement, to implode rather than to contain source materials and to afflict rather than soothe the viewer. Strangely enough, the duo's excursions into the radiances of the body electric are often labeled as "minimalist" or other adjectives that seem designed to spare readers and writers further thought instead of trying to expand our understanding of Panasonic's vision. Indeed, despite their typically self-restrained management of their materials and far from rich chromatic palette, Panasonic's audio design is one of excess, hyperbole and exaggeration of microscopic events, rendering the "minimalist" description absolutely absurd. Perhaps guilty of an excessively literal and predictable rendering of Panasonic's analog soundscapes, Quist's Kuvaputki videos can nevertheless, in their fruitful tension between stasis and implosion, boast of faithfully documenting both the duo's aural vision and their live performances by the end of the century, making this a rather unique "tour doc".
This post is a collaboration between SOE and Double Avenue.
The "angles" are here rendered as separate files.


Today we inaugurate a new series here on Sound of Eye by contributor Prof. Grey Herbert called The Science Eye Quarterly, wherein we spotlight scientific research and news events in which the audio-visual realm is either destroyed or reborn in the blink of an eye. Of course, on a daily basis we assume that our own coordination of the audio-visual is true and correct, but when this audio visual axis is placed under the micro or macroscope of science we can begin to see the alarming aura surrounding us that is filled with noise and light. It is this tohu-bohu that we wish to pursue further. 
This week a SoE was spotted in the annals of the Public Library of Science in an article titled A Preliminary Investigation Regarding the Effect of Tennis Grunting: Does White Noise During a Tennis Shot have a Negative Impact on Shot Perception? which confirmed the suspicions of many professional tennis players that grunting during a tennis match is detrimental and unfair play since it prevents one’s opponent from “seeing” the ball as it is hit by the racket. There appears to be a visual audio-event that is obfuscated by the grunt and which causes a degree of confusion for the opponent. According to the authors: “It still remains unknown, and it will be very difficult to ascertain, whether many of the most prolific grunters intentionally grunt to interfere with their opponent's performance. Regardless, our data suggest that when they grunt they are gaining an unfair advantage. Our study indicates that grunting not only decreases an opponent's ability to judge the direction of a shot, it also reduces the amount of time they have to respond to every shot. These consequences on faster tennis surfaces, such as the grass courts of Wimbledon, or the hard courts of the Australian and US Open, are likely to be profound.” Watch the video “Sharapova grunts” here.
Kindly contributed by Prof. Grey Herbert

STOMP (1984)

Director: Maciej Ćwiek
Year: 1984
Time: 7 mins
Music: Krzesimir Debski
Eye of Sound: Ćwiek's debut as a director is an intriguing showcase of collage elegance and rhythmical acuity achieved through apparently simple techniques, its meaning being perhaps as elusive as the piece is visually engaging. Initially reminiscent of Len Lye's early experiments with film scratch, Stomp quickly dives into a black and white parade of almost self-contained beautiful visual print compositions . Time and individuality seem to be the main thematic issues at work, as we are drawn to watch the gradual coming together of a fragmented and incomplete self along a very literal diachronic line. Fingerprints, foot plants, faces and loose letters (perhaps alluding to unformed names) seem to climb the stairs of the construction of selfhood, these staircases being analogous to the timeline that anxiously takes the screen throughout most of Stomp. Krzesimir Debski's musical accompaniment is an uncanny blend of faux-jazz and "library" soundworks interspersed with dramatic atonal sketches that render Stomp an even more unclassifiable piece.
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FORMULA (2002)

Video: Shiro Takatani 
Year: 2002
Time: 65 mins
Music: Ryoji Ikeda
Eye of Sound: By the mid-90s Ikeda offered the audio world a violent, but quiet, revolution. Others would follow his trail and get all the credit, Ikeda being left with only a few crumbles of the goldmine he had located for the (often uninspired) laptop generation. Of course, the test-tone/high-pitched frequency turn in electronic music could perhaps have happened anywhere else at the time: all revolutions seem, a posteriori, to have been bound to happen, just waiting for someone to pull the first trigger. But it's probably a good thing that Ikeda was the one who first stepped in into this relatively unknown island, since his clarity, simplicity and almost eugenic approach to his materials left us with an almost complete topography of this newly-found territory, leaving copycats the burden of sheer emulation or trivialisation and forcing creative artists to push forward in new directions. Formula documents concerts and installations recorded between 1998 and 2002. The first section includes audio installations recorded in Europe and Tokyo, featuring excerpts from albums like or Matrix over a dark screen. The second section comprises a 2001 Tokyo concert in which Ikeda's gelid pulses and frequencies are synched against video-patterns designed by Dumb Type's Shiro Takatani, revisiting material from the 1996 classic +/- and other works. In their stark strobo-geometry and perception-bending force, Takatani's designs are probably the most accurate visual renditions of Ikeda's music. No matter how large your tv-set is or how clean and powerful your speakers are, this can't replace or come close to the unique experience of actually attending Ikeda performances. But if you hadn't had the chance to see and hear them in loco, the Formula collection and a bit of imagination may take you somewhere near. 
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SLOUP (2006)

Director: Imery Watson
Year: 2006
Time: 5 mins
Music: Susumu Yokota
Eye of Sound: Perhaps falling within the inform "music video" category, Sloup was somewhat hermetically defined by Imery Watson (who is credited as the concept artist behind such mainstream works as Batman Begins and, er, Harry Potter) as a reflection on mythology, geometry and man-made structures. What at first seems to be a travel film, tinged with the apparently unavoidable melancholy generated by expanding industrialisation, quickly morphs into more abstract visual compositions in which aeroplanes crossing the skies are assimilated to the jumbled wires connecting electricity towers along a railroad line. These are then given a clearer anthropomorphic shape and motion, and made to literally run along with the camera's train, using 3D graphs, till they finally join the planes we'd seen earlier in the sky. The point is rather unclear, despite some vague allusions to problems on the relation of space and time, travelling speed, and the anthropomorphising instincts of perception. Susumu Yokota's soundtrack, released in 2002, is composed of a few loops apparently taken from Balinese recordings, resulting in the clean ambient soundscape that made him relatively well-known in recent years, with a "fourth-world" ambiance that could have come from the vaults of Zoviet France if they had kept away from drugs and existential issues. 
Movie kindly offered by Montana via email


Year: 1996
Time: 12 mins
Sonny Sharrock
Eddie Horst
Lance Carter
Alfrieda Gerald
Eye of Sound: Very loosely based on the original Hanna-Barbera Space Ghost series, Coast to Coast was aired in the early 90s as a light-hearted manifesto of post cold-war dadacidal humor, and could be seen as Cartoon Network's attempt to tap into the then emerging "alternative" nation of America. Anodinous, hilarious or plain weird, Coast to Coast reinvented the honorable fake-interview tradition by having pre-recorded conversations with "celebrities" and people like us rearranged by the nonchalant and ego-maniacal Space Ghost. In this very special episode, Thurston Moore incarnates one Fred Cracklin in a brief non-sensical cameo which is but a pretext to pay homage to the great avant-noise-jazz-blues guitar player Sonny Sharrock, who had recently expired. If the Coast to Coast series is bizarre for any standards of good TV conduct, the Sharrock episode is particularly strange in that its plot is a lame excuse to pay tribute to the musician and listen to several minutes of his ethereal noise-jazz guitar, thinly framed by some silly jokes between the Ghost and his adorable sidekicks.
Movie kindly offered by Sunship Traveller via email


Directors: Jacqueline Caux & Olivier Pascal
Year: 2005
Time: 50 mins
Luc Ferrari
Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain
Elise Caron
Claude Berset
Christof Schlaeger
Erik M
Eye of Sound: The decision to retain the original title of this documentary, instead of following the rule of translating all film names, can be justified by the fact that anyone familiar with Luc Ferrari will recognize the reference to some of the composer's most famous works, the Presque Rien series, and particularly his 1989 piece Presque Rien avec Filles (Almost Nothing with Girls). Much more than a mere music-documentary, Caux's and Pascal's Presque Rien is possibly the definitive Ferrari doc, not only because of the composer's willingness to play along with the directors' playful design but mostly because of their creative assimilation of his artistic and philosophical mischievousness. Although comprising several different sections that use different aesthetical and narrative strategies, Presque Rien almost seamlessly flows between these often contradictory approaches, its multifarious form being in itself an implicit tribute to the chronic deviancy of Ferrari's career. The film's narrative linchpin is a series of autobiographical notes taken from an homonymous book by Caux herself. But the use of these fragments is far from conventional, since Caux and Pascal decide to pull a narrative trick rarely seen outside Chris Marker's works: to subvert the tradition of the "voice of god" documentary voice-over by having an actress, Elise Caron, deliver Ferrari's most intimate confessions and remembrances - perhaps to reinforce the association between the composer and the Filles allegedly lacking in his life but so deeply present in his music, as well as to multiply the myriad personas emerging from his oeuvre. Ferrari also plays himself, but mostly on more "technical" notes (in which, nevertheless, his generosity and inability to take himself too seriously are absolutely transparent). There is the more conventional melange of live and backstage footage, including rehearsals for his Cahier du Soir "opera" with Elise Caron and the Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain, live collaborations with Christof Schlaeger and Erik M (this one using old Ferrari raw materials), and short excerpts from a 2003 Claude Berset performance of the 36 Enfilades piece for piano and magnetophone. Some of the most beautiful moments, however, stem from an audiovisual installation Ferrari produced between 1995 and 2000: entitled Cycle de Souvenirs (Cycle of Remembrances), it was composed of footage captured in key locations of Ferrari's personal and artistic life, supported by a random composition in which six discs comprising recordings of anodinous urban and domestic soundscapes were constantly shuffled and rearranged, bearing the mark of the composer's concern with chance events and the relations between memory and biography. Several other events contribute to the narrative's richness and density: the perhaps surprising election of John Cage as his major aesthetic and philosophical influence (upon whom Ferrari's early escape from serialism and life-time commitment with non-alignment are implicitly predicated), the identification of the soundtrack for Honegger's classic Pacific 231 (soon on SOE) as a decisive moment in his aural formation, or the jocose justification of his early involvement in concrète explorations as the most barbaric possibility available at the time. If forced to choose one single highlight, however, I'd go for Ferrari's hilarious audio stroll through a parisian suburb amusement park: surrounded by excessive chromatic and sonic stimuluses, the composer's posture betrays neither the shyness of the guilt-ridden voyeur nor the blind aggressiveness of the artist ready to devour his source materials at the cost of their dignity; like a child in a candy store, his is a gaze of sheer delight, immersed in the overwhelming and unembellished pleasures of his senses.
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Director: Suzan Pitt
Year: 1979
Time: 18 mins
Richard Teitelbaum
Steve Lacy
Takehisa Kosugi
George Lewis
Steve Potts
Eye of Sound: Having been presented for more than two years just before Lynch's Eraserhead is no small honour, but in the case of this masterpiece it would be fair to ask whose honour it was anyway. There would be much to say about the many intersections of the works of Suzan Pitt and David Lynch, but it may be enough to state that, despite the growing trivialisation of the surrealist badge, very few other American filmmakers have been so deeply imbued with that vital nexus between formal experimentation and the exploration of the obscure forces that lurk behind human psyche and praxis. Defying analytical efforts since the 80s, Asparagus, arguably Pitt's finest work, is a symbolic reflection on issues of female sexuality, art and identity constructs. And that's probably how far one can go: the visual narrative is as lavish and vibrant as elusive and hermetic, and Pitt's claim that Asparagus is not designed to be reflected upon but to be felt seems reasonable enough in face of the immense interpretive difficulties raised by the struggle between its unstoppable flow of onirical but culturally familiar imagery and our equally untamed desire for exegetical decomposition. A woman, locked in an over-stuffed house that increasingly resembles her self, opens its red curtains to gaze at the outside world. This, perhaps, is not really an external world, not only because this oversized "exterior" reality is replicated, at various points, in the inner/domestic realm, but also because Asparagus, like an animated Klein bottle, constantly juggles with, and refuses, distinctions between within and without. Grotesque floral shapes that seem to border on the female carnal soon give way to openly phallic vegetable forms - the eponymous asparaguses - which are gently caressed by a giant creature whose face we are not allowed to see, but which we may suspect to belong to the woman who is watching it (and, indeed, the same asparaguses that are now caressed - and sucked later - are shown at the opening sequence being defecated by the same "character"). When this caressing hand disappears, we are sent back into the house to witness a more explicit illustration of the imbrication of reality levels that seems to traverse the entire Asparagus province: the woman closely watches a replica of the house where she is seen closely watching a replica of the house, and so on. Deep inside this final replica, on the farthest level of this continuous nesting of frames, we finally find a room where several masks (personas?) are kept, as if this is a costume room in a theatre backstage. The woman chooses one of these and, for the first time, although through the protection of a mask, we are shown "her face"; as "fake" as it may be, this is the closer she'll ever be to having one. After packing her inner, domestic and mildly eroticised world in a bag, as if these were props for a show, the woman finally ventures on the "outside", her identity defined - rather than protected - by the female mask she chose. This outer world is, again, populated by images of sexual consumption, phalluses being given the same erotic significance as hands. But hers is not a goalless rambling; she aims straight at a Theatre where we are promised "optical illusions", "feats of activity" and "dreams of art". The woman goes backsatge, behind these illusions, and she's obviously at home. So much so that she feels free to release her inner world on stage: the asparagus-couch she has fondled before, the omnipresent edenic serpent we first saw encircling her naked leg and many other objects that seem designed to marvel the eye as much as to capture islands of memory. After exposing her innner universe, the artist leaves her theater and finally removes her mask: she is faceless, nothing but as blank surface. Her memories and existential fragments now float in the air, apparently free to roam. Back in the domestic realm, to remove the mask is explicitly equated with undressing: she can now finally open the window that was separating her from the phallic shapes that lay "outside", those manifold asparaguses that required all that spectacle of release to become reachable, graspable, edible. A reflective edifice of immensely powerful symbolic correspondences, Asparagus has been strangely portrayed as a milestone in feminist filmmaking, as if any enquiry by a female artist into the realm of the erotic must be aligned with something other than the personal - an onus which males are usually spared. The carnal mysteries paraded here seem, however, to owe many of its concerns, techniques and vocabulary to psychoanalysis, a field which has been commonly accused of being built upon male chauvinism. As baffling as a mythical narrative and elusive as a rescued dreamscape, Asparagus remains, in all its beauty, density and glory, utterly unreachable, eliciting new readings at every viewing.