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Monthly Archives: October 2009

Project 1 Rationale

Keep Smiling is an exploration in the synthesis of visual and audio elements expressing the theme (noun) of anticipation (but just as easily relating to tension and anxiety). Similarly I choose a grouping of verbs (drill, pierce, repulse, scrape, etc.) to guide my sound design.

The video begins in a very serene state, a blank screen with only a barely audible clock ticking. This is meant to communicate a relatable feeling to the audience – that of falling asleep or relaxation. It also acts as a sort of norm that will soon be disturbed with the build up of sound and image.

The first instance of this occurs when the viewer hears footsteps pass by, signifying that they are not alone. But the sound is muffled, it is occurring outside of the viewer’s room. You are still safe. This separation/privacy is broken as someone soon enters the room, the viewer is no longer alone, and the serene blank screen is replaced with a glaring white light. Now the claiming, predictable sound of the clock ticking in the left ear is challenged by aggressive noise from the right. This tension exists throughout the whole video; it is up to the viewer’s subconscious to determine when the clock has stopped ticking.

Familiar noises start to pour in, each one more aggressive then the last. There is another person in the audience’s presences but no visual or audio communication between the two. Instead the dominant sounds are sharp and metallic. There is an added flash of imagery as particular sounds occur – this is meant to disrupt the viewer, to question what they are hearing by directly placing an image in front of them. Since the image only appears for a fraction of a second the viewer cannot fixate on it for to long before being consumed by the next. This also echoes the loss of control exemplified by the static shot throughout the video.

Soon the building tension approaches from the right and converges on the viewer, now filling both the right and left audio channels. The audience can now hear someone breathe over them. The sound intensives as switches are flipped and mechanical noises heard in intimate proximity. By now the intensity of the light has increased significantly. A final swallow is heard from the person who the audience has become; a sort of final presence before the viewer is completely muted by the noise of suction inside their head. Finally the dramatic dentist drill comes down in a climactic finish, breaking the connection to the light and completely drowning the audio in a piercing and grinding sound so familiar to the dentist.

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Here is the Sound Essay for ‘Keep Smiling’. Video and Rationale available above.