Guy Sherwin - Optical Sound Films 1971-2007
Those of us working in the field of sound are aware of the hierarchy that places visual art above auditory-based art. Consequently there is often an opposition between the two. The films of Guy Sherwin refreshingly turn their back on this position, forming a balanced relationship between vision and sound in a cinematic context. Sherwin has been known for his live performances involving film, manipulating strips of film, uniquely accentuating its sonic properties in creative ways and then displaying it through multiple projectors. The 17 short films in “Optical Sound Films” are categorised into 5 sections – of these I found “Sounds with a Camera” and “Found Texts” particularly interesting as they strongly reflect Sherwin’s exploration of extracting sound from both visual and physical mediums. In “Newsprint” Sherwin glues newspaper onto 16mm film, the text from the newspaper appears on the screen in brief fragments whilst varying tonalities of static emanate from the speakers as the projector reads the paper. “Night Train” uses a 16mm camera positioned through an open train window to view the passing landscape. The shutter speed is slow rendering the countryside into long horizontal streaks of light. Sherwin converts the lights into different pitches and tones by finding a physical similarity between light and sound-wave patterns.