Between the ears : acoustiographic representations of character interiority

Newton, Alex Michael
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This essay aims to explore acoustiographies of the interior and interpret the cultural impressions that they perpetuate. While I do consider the conventional iconographies of headphones and full-body suits (e.g., spacesuits) that filmmakers employ as tools to focalize a character’s internal subjectivity, acoustiographies often supersede or occur in lieu of such visual symbols. While the acoustiography of “leakage” symbolizes the disparity between the self-perception of the self and the social perception of the self, that of “head sound” aims at placing the audience inside the head of a given character by positioning the point of audition as if it were emanating from the character’s head. Leakage is a diegetic sound that is somewhat obscured or filtered by some barrier blocking the sound’s full frequency emission, whereas sound effects or music seemingly sounding from inside a character’s head, as for example through headphones, represent head sound. These acoustiographies of leakage and head sound play a crucial role in the filmic expression of a character’s interiority, which they accomplish through their ability to physically represent interior space, but also figuratively represent a character’s subjectivity.