The Auditory Setting

Environmental Sounds in Film and Media Arts. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press (forthcoming 2021)

The Auditory Setting_cover_FRONT

The book introduces and investigates how narrative and a sense of place and space are constructed in film and media arts through the reproduction and mediation of ‘ambience’ or ambient sounds. The term ‘auditory setting’ can be understood as a sonic backdrop or the acoustically mediated space where a story or event can take place. The construction of an auditory setting in film and media arts is under-theorised. This book’s critical approach draws on existing theories of narrative, diegesis, mimesis, and presence, and follows a varied number of relevant works to assess sound’s undervalued role in the setting and its production. The book focuses on critically listening to the production and mediation of ambience or the sonic environments in film and media artworks. I set out to examine how ambience or ambient sound is used as a site-specific element to compose the auditory setting by rendering a spatial awareness in the production of film, media and sound artworks. Taking a critical attitude towards the notions of narration, diegesis, mimesis, presence, rendering, human intervention, transformation and representation of the sonic environment, and technological innovations, the project questions the classical assumptions about sound in film and audiovisual media (e.g. image-based relationships), and intends to shift the focus toward the idea of sculpting a site’s presence in the diegetic world as a crucial narrative strategy. Studying the transformations made on site-specific ambient sounds to form constructed ambience in film and media artworks help to understand the human agency in mediating environmental sounds, human affordances in listening to the environment, and the nature of the sonic experience in the Anthropocene.

Book/Monograph (forthcoming 2021): The Auditory Setting: Environmental Sounds in Film and Media Arts. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press (in press).

Table of Contents

Part 1. Introduction 

Chapter 1. The first sound and the curiosity

Chapter 2. The auditory context and signification

Chapter 3. Key concepts and definitions

Chapter 4. Approach and method

Part 2. Sonic trajectories

Chapter 5. Monaural soundtracks and recording (sonic) reality

Chapter 6. Stereo sound and the expanded space

Chapter 7. Digital surround sound and the mimetic site

Part 3. On location and other stories

Chapter 8. Land, field, meadow

Chapter 9. Forest, jungle

Chapter 10. Village, rural environment

Chapter 11. Indoors

Chapter 12. Riverbank, beach, island

Chapter 13. Street, public squares, urban neighbourhood

Chapter 14. Public transport

Chapter 15. Airport

Chapter 16. Underwater, outer space

Part 4. Critical listening

Chapter 17. Mapping the aesthetic choices in sound production

Chapter 18. Auditory presence and better practice

Chapter 19. The God of small sounds

Chapter 20. Emerging trends and future directions

Appendix. Notes, and bibliography

Other outputs:

Exhibition: TBA

Listening and viewing examples (more to be added):