Music, Sound, and the Moving Image

Sonic Hybridity and Visual Dualism in the Work of Sussan Deyhim and Shirin Neshat

Music, Sound, and the Moving Image (2007), 1, (1), 73–94.

Abstract

Two collaborative video installations made by the Iranian exiles Shirin Neshat and Sussan Deyhim are considered. The case is made that while the visual component of the installations might seem to support critical apprehensions that the works are binary, opposing the Orient and the West and presenting the Other for Western viewers as either exotic or nostalgic, the sound strategies adopted consciously strive for hybridity and connection. The examples are audio-visual installations rather than single-screen projected film, and medium specificity is only taken into account to the extent that it has a bearing on the cross-cultural potential of image and sound.

I engage with recent developments in the study of the role of sound in audio-visual dynamics and meaning production, with the aim of revealing questions which refuse the limitations of cultural location.

The conclusion of the article is that the intellectual productivity of such a perspective is not especially to decentre the dominance of the visual as a polemical end in itself; rather, attention to sound strategies complements the discussion of the visual and enables texts capable of a more dynamic and open 'readerly' access than predominantly visually-centred concerns allow.

NB http://www.sussandeyhim.com/media.php features the entire soundtrack for Soliloquy, used as one of the examples here.

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Sieglohr, Ulrike