Database for Animation Studies


Grains of Sound: Visual and Sonic Textures in Sand or Peter and the Wolf

There is a tendency in animation studies to discuss sound in the language of images, stressing sound’s alignment with visual cues (as in mickey mousing and leitmotifs). But sounds do not only mimic images: they add textures and emotions that change what we see. This article explores grain (texture) and timbre (tone color produced by specific instruments and techniques) as qualities shared by visual and sonic material. To do so, the author closely reads Sand or Peter and the Wolf (1969), where Caroline Leaf’s haptic sand animation is matched by Michael Riesman’s electroacoustic score. Leaf painstakingly molds animals by scraping away individual sand grains, and Riesman sculpts sonic textures with tiny adjustments to knobs and touch-sensitive pads on the Buchla modular synthesizer. Their collective improvisation with sands and sounds reveals new ways to think about artists’ material practices and the friction and interplay between images and sounds. They encourage spectators to perceive the animals as not merely plasmatic, or Sergei Eisenstein’s notion of contour-bending character animation. Instead, Leaf and Riesman deploy what the author calls ‘granular modulation’, expressing sand and animals with sensuous materiality. In Leaf’s and Riesman’s improvisations, grainy textures are the seeds of understanding how sound and vision become symbiotic – and encounter friction – in animation.

  • Title (Japanese)
音の粒:『Sand or Peter and the Wolf』にみる視覚と音の質感
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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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