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Sound Shapes

Guy Sherwin
1972
3 mins b/w Optical sound 16 mm

Sound Shapes

One of my first 16mm films, made without a camera as an experiment in how to visualize rhythm. It equates four simple shapes with four simple sounds, made by punching shapes into black film and scratching into the film's optical sound track.

The film uses a bar structure similar to a music score. Each bar lasts one second (24 frames of film) and is divided into 2, 3, 4 or 6 aural and visual beats per second (bps). These are used in alternating patterns such as:

2/3, 3/4, 3/4/6, 2/3/6

In each section of the film an arbitrary relationship is established between image, sound and beats per second, for example:

circle = 12 scratches per frame (high pitch sound) at 6 bps

rhombus = 6 scratches per frame (mid pitch sound) at 4 bps

triangle = 3 scratches per frame (low pitch sound) at 3 bps

rectangle = 1 scratch per frame (percussive sound) at 6 bps

A print of the film was hand-painted in 2006

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