Lecture Performance: The Voice in Cinema, or The Acousmêtre and Me

6.00PM Fri 25 Aug 2017 (1hr 30mins)
GOMA | Cinema A | Free


Acousmêtre -- a kind of voice-character specific to cinema that derives mysterious powers from being heard and not seen. The disembodied voice seems to come from everywhere and therefore to have no clearly defined limits to its power.

Lecture performance based around Michel Chion's two short films Le Grand Nettoyage 1975 (5 mins) and Eponine 1984 (13 mins).

When I published my essay La Voie au Cinéma in 1982 -- where I proposed the theory of acousmêtre, a word I invented and which had a certain resonance thanks notably to the English translation by Claudia Gorbman of The Voice in Cinema (1999), and the writings of Slavoj Zizek -- I had already 'lived' this concept. I had lived it both in my life experience - like any child - and also through certain films that particularly marked me, such as Bresson's A Man Escaped, Hitchcock's Psycho, Lang's The Testament of Dr Mabuse and Syberberg's Parsifal based on Wagner's opera. And I lived it through my own creative works based on absence and suggestion like Requiem, the 1973 musique concrète composition full of "characters" and "scenes" one does not see, or the short film Le Grand Nettoyage 1975, a sound film without words.

When I began to write and shoot my film Eponine in 1975, I wanted to consciously 'test' this and other concepts of analysis with a film; the character of a mother without a face; the suggestion through sound of an outside world that one never sees (since the film takes place within the walls of a house from which one does not go out); the creation of an imaginary topography. The success of this film showed me that the concepts 'worked'. Thus, for me, theory is not a dead demonstration. A living theory must be drawn from a personal experience.

In this lecture-performance, I will share projects, sketches, essays, personal creations (including for a future film), alongside excerpts from Bresson, Hitchcock, Lang, Syberberg, and Spike Jonze, who, as some have said, renews the idea of ​​acousmêtre. I'll present these materials sometimes deprived of sound, sometimes deprived of images, sometimes associated with other images and other sounds, and sometimes accompanied by my own live voice. I will show how easy it is to 'live' and to experiment with audio-visual combinations.

M.C., April 9, 2017