Introduction to the research

This practice-based PhD research establishes links between human experiences of living in sound and the practice of cinema sound design. Its title is ‘Insounds’: Human sonic permeability and the practice of cinema sound design within ecologies of silences’. This research takes an enactive approach to demonstrate human permanent integration within physical and cultural sonic environments.‘Inaudible Visions, Oscillating Silences’ is the title of the exhibition that marks the end of the practice as research PhD study undertaken at Southern Cross University. Isabelle would like to acknowledge the support her supervisors at Southern Cross University (Associate Professor Rebecca Coyle,  Dr. Grayson Cooke and Professor Nel Glass).

This project examines the conjoint influences of visual imagination and listening practices on environmental sound awareness. Over a four year period, this research has examined the relationships between acoustic ecology, the sounds of the everyday, and the atmospheric component of movie soundtracks. This project is not focused on voice or musical scores: atmospheric movie soundtracks encourage reflections onto human approaches to contemporary acoustic environments.

The researcher, Isabelle Delmotte, has combined the practice of cinema sound design and the notion of soundscapes’ awareness to examine how the mechanisms of cinema sound production can affect the sensorial experiences of the public at large. Often poorly acknowledged, the work of cinema sound designers can modify our reactions and interpretations of a visual scene and its spatiality. In the context of this research, the professional practice of cinema sound design acts as a revealer of familiar soundscapes and as a surveyor.

Human habituation to the soundscapes of modernity frames consensual ‘silences’. These acoustic ecologies provide a cinematic vocabulary including expressions such as ‘room tone’, and ‘atmospheres’. The generous creative participations of Australian cinema professionals contribute to explore a paradigm of ‘silences’ as dynamic sonic spaces. A short scene from the Australian feature Noise (Dir. Matthew Saville) was used as the visual canvas from which screenwriter Roger Monk (AFI and IF winner) wrote the script that articulates the soundtracks of the exhibition.  Graphic artist Ben Leon executed its storyboard.

The collaborative project comprises dedicated sound pieces created by eight Australian cinema sound designers. Several of the participants have won professional awards from the Australian Film Institute (AFI), the Inside Film award (IF), the Australian Screen Sound Guild (ASSG), or contributed to awarded movies (AFI, Emmy, American Oscars or Golden Reel). The Australian sound designers are Damian Candusso (ASSG and Golden Reel winner & AFI nominee), Carlos Choconta, Tom Heuzenroeder (AFI winner, ASSG & Emmy nominee), John Kassab (ASSG winner and sound designer on Oscar winning short film), Markus Kellow (ASSG winner), Evan Kitchener, Ben Vlad and Michael Worthington.