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“Resonant Evil: Sonic Palimpsests & Haptic Sonority in Transnational Horror Cinema”


Friday, Oct. 30, 3:30 p.m.

Knight Library, Room 36, Main Campus

Steven Brown (Professor of Comparative Literature) gave a work-in-progress presentation titled “Resonant Evil: Sonic steven_brown_fullPalimpsests & Haptic Sonority in Transnational Horror Cinema.” The author of Tokyo Cyberpunk: Posthumanism in Japanese Visual Culture and Theatricalities of Power: The Cultural Politics of Noh, Professor Brown is currently working on a study of sound design in the Asian horror genre

Over the past ten years, a new wave of film scholarship has emerged that seeks to correct the overemphasis on the visual aspects of narrative film by reclaiming the importance of sound.  Without denying that narrative film remains a signifying text, the task set forth by film sound theorists such as Michel Chion and others is to attend to the sonic phenomena constituting cinema’s parallel universe of materiality and the spectator’s affective or non-cognitive responses to the sound-image relations of film.

Contemporary Asian horror cinema offers especially instructive examples of how sound flows modulate affective states and non-cognitive (or pre-cognitive) responses. Through advanced spectral and surround field analysis and a careful consideration of elements such as the interrelations between noise and silence, the function of drones and sonic palimpsests, and the status of the acousmatic voice, we can gain a better understanding of how soundscapes contribute to the construction of horror as a space for what may be called “haptic sonority.”