Document Type


Publication details

Delmotte, I 2013, ‘Insounds’: human sonic permeability and the practice of cinema sound design within ecologies of silences', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright I Delmotte 2013


This research establishes a link between the human experience of living in sound and the practice of cinema sound design. Environmental ‘silences’ are the absorbed but often cognitively dismissed sonic entities of the everyday. Their perceived ubiquity provides cinematic vocabulary that includes the expressions ‘room tone’, ‘silence’, ‘atmospheres’, ‘backgrounds’, and ‘ambiences’. Movies are framed by social constructs, and the qualities of cinematic silences allow for primal discoveries of affective sonic activities that ‘feel silent’. My project aims to embody ‘silences’ as dynamic spaces that echo human lifelong sonic absorption and state of being ‘insounds’, of being part of the sonic matter moulding the coenesthetic system of the body. The exploration of this paradigm generates a sonic awareness that in turn encourages an expansive attention to bodily and auditory perceptions.

A phenomenological approach to the creative practice of cinema sound design provides an alternative and innovative view on sonic affect and created silences in film. As a practice-based research project, resulting in an exhibition supported by an exegesis, this investigation is qualitative, multidisciplinary, and experimental in both the approaches to data collection and the design of the exhibited work. The creative processes associated with the data gathering, as well as with the design of the exhibition and its multimodal artifacts, offer a different paradigm of sound as a way of knowing. In order to explore ways in which Western contemporary soundscapes are perceived and silences are conceived, selected research participants have contributed unique interpretations of the same cinematic script. The creators of the exhibited artifacts are professional cinema sound designers, a screenwriter, a storyboard artist and myself as I act at once as art practitioner, curator and PhD researcher. The knowledge gained provides inter-relational views on sonic affect, acoustic ecologies, semiotics of film sound and the professional practice of cinema sound design.

‘Inaudible Visions, Oscillating Silences’ is the title of the exhibition marking the end of the study’s explorations of creative and curatorial practices. The use and display of different mediums, text, images and sound, allows the researcher to acknowledge all participants’ contribution to the research. The designed perambulatory path articulates the research journey of all participants and provides a physical integration of the exegesis within the exhibition. By triggering awareness to the sound of the everyday, the gallery’s exploration allows for different experiential possibilities of silences and states of being ‘insounds’. The PhD thereby contributes to an understanding of everyday soundscapes in addition to the specific uses of atmospheric sound in cinematic practices.