Sound Technology and the American Cinema: Perception, Representation, Modernity

By James Lastra; John Belton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
SOUND SPACE AND CLASSICAL NARRATIVE

If, ultimately, the sound engineer accommodated himself and his standards to the classical Hollywood paradigm, and thus to capitalist rationalization, the process was not without its hesitations, discontinuities, and disruptions. Too often examinations of Hollywood's methods of representation assume as self-evident that the classical paradigm's norms were predetermined by the apparatus's built-in ideological predispositions. Crucial questions about the classical construction of space, for example, are answered as if by simply illustrating a similarity between filmic images and Renaissance paintings we prove their mutual implication. This approach, widespread as it is, not only mistakes essential elements of a Renaissance mode of representation, but through the language of legacies and inheritance 1 in fact naturalizes the emergence of modern representational norms by locating them in the structure of the technology itself.

Although Hollywood largely succeeded in its (often unconscious) attempts to control as many aspects of film production as possible, and managed to insinuate its needs and standards into the assumptions and practices of self-designated scientists, the accomplishment was no preordained certainty guaranteed by the grinding of lenses or the psychic structures of the bourgeois subject. The Hollywood mode of representation ensured its dominion much more subtly and pervasively by encouraging individuals and groups to accommodate themselves to and finally internalize its own historical norms in the guise of their own scientifically and aesthetically derived

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