Machines Of The Audiovisual: The Development Of “Synthetic Audiovisual Interfaces” In The Avant-Garde Art Since The 1970s


  • Jihoon Kim


This paper scrutinizes how a number of avant-garde filmmakers and video artists since the 1970s have developed alternative models of the audiovisual apparatus in order to explore a synthetic relation between sound and
image. Rather than depending upon the term ”˜apparatus’ implying a rigid separation of different media arts, I define their artifacts as the “synthetic audiovisual interface” in the light of their two common characteristics: firstly, as experimentations with ”˜interfacing’ different media components, the artifacts are intended upon translating image into sound, or vice versa, by virtue of unearthing, transforming or recombining material and structural attributes of a media including film, video, and computer; and second, as investigations into ”˜interfacing’ the human and the machine, the artifacts are channeled into pushing the threshold of the relation between two perceptual modes (hearing and seeing) or between human perception and their operation. Drawing on the examples of Paul Sharits, Lis Rhodes, Woody Vasulka, Bruce McClure, and Ryoji Ikeda and examining how their artifacts share a constructive and combinatory approach to the media and a range of their audiovisual effects, I argue that these two characteristics of the “synthetic audiovisual interface” allow us to consider three phases of the development in audiovisual technologies – celluloid, analogue video, and digital technology – as converging in a conceptual parallel.