This essay is dedicated to my father, Jean V. Alter (1925-2012). "Sound, on the other hand, is left out in the cold in both technology and thinking about film." -- Jean-Luc Godard, 2000 "It's the reign of the always identical.... Everything is beginning to look alike. Cloning is already with us." -- Jean-Luc Godard, 2001 Research on the audio-visual genres of social cinema and essay films tends to focus on narrative structures and visual tracks as opposed to sound tracks. Especially when looking at French productions, the shadow of Michel de Montaigne's sixteenth-century Essais in tandem with Alexandre Astruc's twentieth-century concept of the caméra-stylo push investigations of this audio-visual genre towards theories that stress visual and literary/philosophical approaches over those that privilege soundtracks.1 Relying heavily on either literary or philosophical models or on image theory to understand the logic of a medium in which the audio plays such a dynamic role is symptomatic of the dominance of the logocentric and visually (optiphilic/scopophilic) based interpretive methods that circulate today.2 These models of analysis and interpretation are clearly derived from literary criticism and art history. My aim is not to argue against the seminal role that either linguistic texts or
SubStance – University of Wisconsin Press
Published: Jul 31, 2012
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