With its capacity to defamiliarize and subvert visual representation, sound is not simply a source of information supplementary to the visual in the cinematic representation of sexuality, but a site of ambiguous ideologies and power relations.
This collection exemplifies a variety of approaches to the sonic representation of sexuality in cinema. It draws on a range of sexual scenarios from pornography to sci-fi to art-house and includes cinema from various cultures and countries. Among the topics addressed are how the deployment of sound is implicated in gender politics in the representation of sexuality and how sounds are able to radically colour and even override the visual and lexical content of a film.
Through sonicity the film-maker can challenge the ideologies at play underneath surface stereotypes, and introduce emotional overtones which meliorate the alienation generally associated with porn. Sound and music can establish a historical period as well as spatially localize sexuality within a framework that problematizes the distinctions between porn and erotica. They can introduce into the ahistorical sextopia of porn the cultural specificity of the notion of ‘pornography’ and indeed can shift a film in and out of that category, even desexualizing the naked human body.
Published: Nov 1, 2010