Cinesonica: Sounding the Audiovisuality of Film and Video

Birtwistle, Andrew Brian. 2006. Cinesonica: Sounding the Audiovisuality of Film and Video. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The dissertation presents an exploration of neglected and under-theorised aspects of film and video sound. In doing so, the study proposes a sounding of the cinesonic; that is, it considers the deployment of sound within an audiovisual context. The key concern of this dissertation is how we might map and negotiate the materiality of film and video sound both beyond, and in relation to, its signitive dimensions, and what might be at stake in a critical engagement with that materiality. In particular, this sounding engages with the inscription of difference that is common to Saussurian linguistics, signitive formulations of sound-image relations, and notions of what might constitute the properly 'political' in an audiovisual poetics founded on modernist paradigms. The research demonstrates that any coming-to-terms with film and video's materiality needs to be informed by the idea that the material events we term 'the film' or 'the video' are marked by a relationship between sound and image. Thus the dissertation negotiates a sounding of these media in relation to that materiality best described as audiovisuality. The dissertation opens with a consideration of the way in which sound is commonly conceptualised in terms of its relationship with an object source, and how the formulation of sound as signifier militates against an engagement with its material dimensions. The following chapters explore neglected aspects of film and video sound by drawing on a range of theoretical resources predominantly - but not exclusively - derived from the work of Gilles Deleuze, with detailed case study analyses of specific film and video texts, and interviews with filmmakers. The topics covered in these chapters include the phenomenon of optical crackle, electronic sounds, the correspondence of sound and image pejoratively termed 'mickey-mousing', and the organisation and manipulation of sounds in British Scratch Video of the 1980s.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Cinesonica, Audiovisuality, Film and Video, film sound, video sound, British Scratch Video

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

03 Jun 2020 14:15

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:31


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