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Soundtrack

Guy Sherwin
1977
8mins black & white sound 16mm
a widescreen version (2001) is part of The Train Films. Also can be shown as a gallery installation.

Soundtrack

Railway tracks seen from a speeding train are converted into optical sounds.

An uninterrupted shot looking down onto railtracks.
The camera points at right angles to the direction of travel and the area framed is from the skyline to the rails immediately below the train. The relative speed of the passing landscape decreases with distance. This is complicated by the fact that at certain speeds (relative to the camera shutter speed) the sleepers appear to move in the contrary direction. Speed also affects the spatial reading of the image, from a three-dimensional space (at a distance) to a two-dimensional one (blurred foreground) comprised of horizontal divisions of the screen area.

(Speed is further accelerated by projecting in widescreen format via an anamorphic lens - 2001 version).

By using a technique that translates the image into optical sound, the horizontal divisions of the frame create the synchronised soundtrack to the film. Here distance (perspective) affects pitch, and tonality affects volume. Buildings, objects, trains, passing through the picture area register simultaneously on the soundtrack.

When the train enters a tunnel, the screen goes black and the sound cuts out, but the film continues.

note: Soundtrack can also be shown as a looped gallery installation, projected in widescreen format across floor or adjoining walls.

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