Principal Investigator: Andrew Knight-Hill

Duration: January 2021 – December 2022

The spatial turn, which swept the wider humanities, has not significantly contributed to inform our understandings of sound and image relationships. Audiovisual media are still often conceptualised in visually biassed, temporal frameworks, divided in relation to layers of narrative structure. This project seeks to investigate if spatial thinking can provide new understandings of the audiovisual, in which all sound and image elements (and their spatial properties) can be identified as fundamentally active participants in constituting our audiovisual experiences. This project will engage Oscar and EMMY award winning Sound Design professionals in collaborative research to unpack their tacit knowledge and to investigate the role that spatial thinking plays within their practice.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this project seeks to use concepts of space to analyse and critique established audiovisual theories, bridging traditional subject boundaries and inspiring new perspectives for understanding sound and image media. Both traditional scholarly research and creative practice will be applied as complementary methodologies to test and interrogate hypotheses, working towards knowing both ‘about’ and ‘through’ audiovisual artefacts.

Bringing together research from a range of different subject areas (including electroacoustic music, sound art, film musicology, film practice, spatial studies, architecture & anthropology) as well as adopting both scholarly and practice based methodologies, this project seeks to deliver new understandings which can be communicated to diverse academic audiences and practitioners within the creative industries. Outcomes have the potential to benefit scholars of audiovisual media, students and graduates looking to develop their creative practices through critical understandings, and creative industry professionals seeking to engage with the latest theoretical perspectives to advance their practices. Outcomes will be particularly relevant for studies in emerging areas such as Virtual Reality where conventional temporal constructs of film are dissolved by the medium

This project will:

  1. Synthesise concepts from electroacoustic music, film sound practice, spatial studies and film studies towards developing new interdisciplinary understandings of the audiovisual as spatial constructs [Outputs – A,B,D,F,G].
  2. Engage with non-academic film sound practitioners to stimulate knowledge exchange, informing theoretical understandings and seeding impact from academia into the creative industries [Outputs – E,F,G,C].
  3. Establish agendas of research, facilitating international interdisciplinary collaboration and exchange via conferences, journal special issues and edited volumes [Outputs – C,D,E,F,G].
  4. Host international networking events to bring together fellow researchers within audiovisual and contiguous fields to work collaboratively on projects and publications [Outputs – G,C,E,F].

In addition to academics and researchers in universities, this project actively involves leading creative professionals (via partnership with the Association of Motion Picture Sound (AMPS)) engaging the extensive tacit knowledge from professionals working in commercial film. This methodology enables the triangulation of research findings and the opportunity to investigate spatial conceptions of the audiovisual from a range of different perspectives. Outputs will include books, academic journal articles, edited volumes, audiovisual compositions, radiophonic work, public talks and conferences.

Networking events for researchers (with emphasis on supporting Early Career academics) will take place as part of the Leadership activities associated with this event, engaging both European and international research communities in the investigation of and promotion of new agendas of research in the area of audiovisual space.

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