Jerobeam Fenderson’s oscilloscope music, or the works described in the article on the Digital Harmony of Sound and Light that I looked at yesterday, aim at building an art form based on direct correspondences between sound and vision. I got to thinking Strange Continuity: Why our brains don’t explode at film cuts, an Aeon video that takes a look at why out brains process film cuts so easily, despite their recent appearance on the timescale of human evolutionary history. The argument is that film cuts work because they exploit the ways our visual systems have evolved to work – the filtering already in place to deal with the constant blinking and saccades that apparently render us functionally blind for a third of our waking lives without disturbing our sense of a continuous visual experience.
I was thinking of how the continuity of sound provides a complementary sense to help glue all those visual cuts together – and indeed that is often how film soundtracks work, the Aeon video included. Conversely film cuts opened up our acceptance for abrupt musical juxtapositions – Stravinsky for example. The similarity of film and tape and their modern digital (DAW) counterparts in contrast to modular patches that don’t typically include abrupt transitions. In his talk at Basic Electricity in Berlin Rob Hordijk contrasts the tradition of Musique Concrete with the large electronic studios of the 50s – the studios that can be seen as the starting point of modular synthesis.