Sounding Decay in the Digital Age: Audio-Visions of Decasia (2002) and Lyrical Nitrate (1991)

Nessa Johnston

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Bill Morrison’s Decasia (2012) and Peter Delpeut’s Lyrical Nitrate (1991) are collage works made up of decayed silent-era film fragments. The films approach sound in contrasting ways: Lyrical Nitrate uses old 78 rpm recordings of operatic music as musical accompaniment to its decayed images, whereas Decasia uses a specially commissioned score and exists not only in DVD format but also as an elaborately staged performance piece. This chapter is an investigation of the role of the soundtrack within both films’ repurposing strategy, comparing and contrasting their sonic approaches, using a Chion-esque idea of “audio-vision” in an effort to understand their aesthetic workings. Despite the material heterogeneity of film sound and film image, the spectator takes in the experience as a synthesis. Yet beyond representational strategies the materiality of sounds and images in the pre- and postdigital ages is arguably the subject of exploration unifying this comparative analysis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Music and Sound of Experimental Film
    EditorsHolly Rogers, Jeremy Barham
    Place of PublicationOxford
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Number of pages14
    ISBN (Electronic)9780190469894
    ISBN (Print)9780190469900
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2017


    • experimental film
    • found footage
    • sound
    • noise
    • soundtrack
    • Silent film
    • Archive
    • Noise
    • Michel Chion
    • Audiovisual dissonance
    • Found footage
    • Technology
    • Analogue and digital


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