Database for Animation Studies


‘Tones from Out of Nowhere’ and Other Non-sensedness: Re-membering the Synthetic Sound Films of Oskar Fischinger and Làszló Moholy-Nagy

Synthetic sound film, a genre in which sound is directly animated onto the soundtrack of a filmstrip, is an avant-garde practice which remains seldom theorized and too often neglected. Expanding on Thomas Y Levin’s canonical work on the genre, ‘“Tones from out of Nowhere”: Rudolph Pfenninger and the archaeology of synthetic sound’ (2003), this article argues that there is a fundamental divide amongst the artistic approaches to synthetic sound film between filmmakers seeking to create specific aural objects through a new form of visual representation, and filmmakers focused on the graphic object and its direct translation into a new/unknown form of aural representation. Concentrating on the latter group which begins with Oskar Fischinger and Làszló Moholy-Nagy, through a materialist framework, this article shows how their produced sounds re-member the objects from which they emerge and, as such, are bound to a material encounter defined by this sensorial return to objectness.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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