This chapter examines the importance of sound, in its aspects as both presence and absence, in the genealogy of installation and the moving image. In mainstream film and television, the synchronization of the picture to sound serves to promote the credibility of the characters and the vividness of locations and provides what Roland Barthes termed a “certificate of presence.” Sound promotes the coherence of the story and, like movement, smoothes the way through the disruption of edits and scene changes, and creates in the viewer anticipations appropriate to the unfolding scenario. This chapter considers how silence gives full weight to the image and only when sound is removed. It then explains how voices can be used not only to disrupt the logic of sound and picture synchrony, but also to create rich layers of meaning. It also explores the notions of ventriloquism and bi-lingualism and concludes with an analysis of the conventional purpose of sound in moving-image installations.
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