Itineraries of Sonic Cinephilia is a personal research project that emerged from a longstanding interest in the variegated ways in which films and television works have been referenced, cited and appropriated in sound art, experimental and popular music in recent decades. From modern and experimental composers such as Luc Ferrari and David Shea, to industrial acts as Cabaret Voltaire and Laibach to popular hip hop artists such as Wu-Tang Clan or Three 6 Mafia, film citations have long been integrated into a plethora of personal compositional aesthetics so as to create moods, support worldbuilding or anchor cultural (counter-)narratives. By understanding such practices as yet overlooked forms of cinephilia in their own right, that reflect novel regimes of listening to – and by the same token interpreting – films and audiovisual culture at large, the project sketches an alternative audio-centric history of cinema and media, while suggesting new forms of audiographic scholarship for film and media studies.
There are two key components of this project. The first is a blog – the Itinerary. On this blog I post and present my own sample- and field recordings based works – collages, loops and sometimes raw field recordings – that reflect my own ways of listening to films and that suggest practice-based research formats for analyzing film and television sound. The blog also reflects on historical and contemporary examples of film sound appropriation and sometimes sound art more broadly so as to offer context on my practice. Second, I maintain a database that gathers examples of film and television sound appropriation in audio works, drawing on personal knowledge and existing databases. The works included in the database altogether offer a basis for analyzing and understanding how the appropriation of film and television samples in audio works reflect different regimes of listening and interpretation.
Theoretically, my project draws on sound, film and media studies. Inspired by philosopher and musicologist Peter Szendy’s work I use the idea of music appropriation as a “listener’s rights” (Szendy, 2008 ), to elucidate the underpinning strategies of listening to, sampling and appropriating film and television sounds in sound works. Using this idea, I posit the instances of appropriation I encounter as expressing desires for others to listen to personal listenings in a shared, continuous interpretative process. Second, my project thinks along film critic and theorist Serge Daney’s focus on the passage of cinema between different platforms and the increasingly hybrid material foundations and mutations of contemporary film viewing. Taking the cue from Daney’s endeavor today, my project reflects on sound appropriation as a passage of cinephile habits between different carriers, while producing a personal, idiosyncratic audio trace and itinerary of my viewings. My project’s title was originally a reference to and tongue in cheek pun on the title of the interview film with the late Daney – Itinéraire d’un ciné-fils (Journey of a “Cine-Son”, Pierre-André Boutang & Dominique Rabourdin, France 1992) – in which Daney recounts his life as a cinephile, and shares his concerns and reflections on the increased pervasiveness of television and cinema’s transition to the small screen. By adding a de… to fils and adding sound – in particular sampling – as a focus, I suggest a bastard origin (in English this could translate into Journey of a “Cine-Son” of a…) in order to further emphasize the heterogeneous and hybrid manifestations of contemporary cinephilia.
– Christian Gosvig Olesen
Szendy, Peter, trans. Charlotte Mandell. Listen: A History of Our Ears. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008.