UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The listening eye Hennell, Valerie Anne

Abstract

This is the sightless cinema. Here sound is both the medium and the message, the process and the product. Modem man is primarily a visually oriented animal. His perception is to a great extent governed by sight— "seeing is believing" —and he tends to translate what he hears into visual terms. But hearing is in itself a kind of seeing: a watchful ear becomes a listening eye as sound yields association and words evoke images. Whales, on the other hand, perceive the world in auditory terms. They translate objects into sound by echo location. The sightless cinema, then, might be considered the theatre of human echo location— a documentation and expression of life in purely aural translation. Words— whether spoken, sung, or read from the page— are the common denominator of man's aural communication. Alone, or combined with sound effects or music, they are capable of evoking and communicating images which are highly visual. Eisenstein’s theory of filmic montage applies here as readily as it does to the cinema of sight. It is the juxtaposition of sounds, the creating of texture within the acoustic space, that makes A + B equal more than the mere sum of the components. The documentaries and songs in this thesis attempt to portray fragments of life aurally by combining words, sounds and music in a way that is palatable to the listening eye.

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