Dialogues of Early Sound Film is another example of my incessant need to connect the local with the global. It is an experimental documentary about the invention of optical-sound-on-motion-picture film by the late Theodore Case and his Case Research Laboratory of Auburn. In 1925, this laboratory launched the first commercially successful optical-sound-on-motion-picture film technology and ushered in the era of the “talkies.” Included in
Dialogues of Early Sound Film is excerpted archival test films of Case himself describing the process variable density soundtrack which enabled synchronous sound to be reproduced within the projector. This video re-imagines these seminal moments in motion picture history with contemporary technologies. In doing so, seventy years of sound and image reproduction are manifested in kaleidoscopic fashion. The radical change of synchronous optical sound in the motion pictures continues to be heard around the world and traverses its provincial origin.
This video stresses the visual resemblance of these early variable density soundtracks to bar codes and other means of encoding information. The video celebrates this invention's cultural impact on successive visual and audio technologies. When I made this video, I relied heavily on the video processing tools at the Experimental Television Center in Owego, New York. The interplay of electronically processed archival material, test films, photographs, and interviews creates an aesthetic document that challenges traditional forms of narrative and speaks to the formal relationships of sound and image.