Audio-visual moiré patterns: Phasing in Guy Sherwin’s Optical Sound films

Aimee Mollaghan

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    British experimental film-maker Guy Sherwin’s optical sound films from the 1970s explore the corporeal correspondence between sound and image through a transposition of the optical soundtrack into the visual images presented on-screen. These films are fundamentally a series of experiments investigating not only the relationship between sound and image, but also the essence and materiality of film itself. Sherwin asserts that his optical sound films have three discernible influences on them: the rigorous structuralism of the London Film-Maker’s Co-op of the 1970s, the idea of aural-visual equivalence, and Steve Reich’s contemporaneous musical experiments with sound phasing. Bearing this assertion in mind, this article intends to explore how Sherwin’s films, such as Phase loop (1971/2007), subvert conventional notions of sound and synchronization in film from the vantage point of structural-materialist film theory. Further to this, it will also consider the influence of Reich’s use of phasing, looping, and his stress on the importance of process in the structuring of material, in order to assess the effects of perceptual shifts as extended to the audio-visual experience by Sherwin.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-57
    Number of pages11
    JournalThe Soundtrack
    Issue number1
    Early online date30 Apr 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2015


    • Guy Sherwin
    • Optical Sound films
    • Steve Reich
    • structural film
    • structural-materialist film
    • visual music
    • expanded cinema
    • minimalism


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