A Vision Thing?
The culture of the image exploits the idea of superior scientific posteriori knowledge. Early cinema made full use of vision to submerge the audience into a story and make them feel part of what was unfolding on the screen in front of them. With the introduction of sound and the spoken word, cinema evolved to incorporate another sense. Today, sound accounts for at least 50%, sometimes even 100%, of the cinematic experience according to David Lynch, described by the Guardian as ‘the most important film-maker of the current era’.
Writing on the hierarchy of the senses, Walter Murch (the world’s first acknowledged sound designer) observes a reciprocal relationship between the birth of man and the evolution of cinema:
“We begin to hear before we are born, four and a half months after conception. From then on, we develop in a continuous and luxurious bath of sounds: the song of our mother’s voice, the swash of her breathing, the trumpeting of her intestines, the timpani of her heart.
Throughout the second four-and-a-half months, Sound rules as solitary Queen of our senses: the close and liquid world of uterine darkness makes Sight and Smell impossible, Taste monochromatic, and Touch a dim and generalised hint of what is to come.” (Foreword in Audio-Vision p.vii)
Murch later concludes:
“We gestate in Sound, and are born into Sight;
Cinema gestated in Sight, and was born into sound.”
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Chion, M. (1994) Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen. New York: Columbia University Press
The Guardian Online (2007) ‘The world’s 40 best directors.’ The Guardian Online [online] Available at: http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/page/0,11456,1082823,00.html [accessed 29 April 2012]