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25.06.2015 10:52 - Yulian Mitev, The sound as a means of decorative strategy in video art
Автор: ulian Категория: Изкуство   
Прочетен: 4352 Коментари: 0 Гласове:

Последна промяна: 25.06.2015 11:18

UDC 7.036(497.2)
Yulian Mitev
(independent researcher,
PHD in Art History)
The sound as a means of decorative strategy in video art

Summary: The role and place of sound in modern video art is researched. The participation of sound in different decorative strategies is defined, in this means different video works are analyzed to point out the place and role of sound in demonstrating the art idea. The protoforms for usage of the sound in the other art systems as musical works, cinema or theater are looked for. Attention is paid to the similarity and difference in their usage in different areas and in definite author’s strategies in building the structure of video art.
Key words: video art, sound, decorative strategies, sound usage, audio records, audio video order, proofreading.

The scientific, scientific-research and news discourse for the image and text in the world video art are established after 1965 and to a certain degree they are functioning but the place and role of sound in it still do not deep scientific research [1, 2, 3]. The difficulty comes from that the artist as a professional disregarding the way of constructing has got used to working with the visible. The sound, invisible by nature, has remained aside from the attention of the researchers of video art for so long. They are influenced by the mute cinema a big part of the video artists from the 60s and 70s as if deliberately ignoring it from the arsenal of its art means. The video art as art form, which is based on technique, recording simultaneously image and sound uses multiple strategies in the building of its structure. The revealing, description and analysis of these strategies are a subject to review in this article.

From one side is the lack of sound so that the viewer could concentrate completely on the image component, and from the other is the technical sound, in the lack of image ( one color bright screen) so that the idea could be underlined which the artist wants to take to the consciousness of the viewer and considers that this could be best done with sound.
As a separate research topic could the video art of artists, who are musicians at the same time – for example D.Rusev, G.Rujev, B. Serginov – and because of this they, a priori, take into consideration the role of the sound. Together with other parts of their art, music and musical performance, as well as video art of their artistic practices are part of the modern Bulgarian “contemporary art”, which expects its followers. Here we point them out and remind that they are one of the possible lines of development in the visual strategies of video art.

The second strategy is to use the musical heritage which should be quoted in connection with the revealing of a particular topic. As an example for the usage of such a strategy, could be mentioned the duo between Dobromir-Ivan and Georgi Rujev in the musical formation of the performance of Dobromir-Ivan, made on the 6 March 2012, at Arossita gallery in memorium of the publicist R.R. Bonalov (1958 – 2011). At the time of the performance Dobromir-Ivan made and gave coffee to the audience for free – a performative act, directed to the memory of the man who is no longer among us and the reflex of those who have remained after him. In this performance Georgi Rujev presented Heidn records, topically connected with the event, and these records are his own choice and reworking. In fact, only the topic and separate motives are by Heidn - the rest is author’s variation and own product of Georgi Rujev, who is topically connected with the personal gratitude and memory for his collaborative work with Dobromir-Ivan and Ruen Ruenov [8].


As a next strategy it could be pointed the musical background created beforehand when a person wants to create video art, in which the noisegram rises a definite line of anticipation or concentrates the viewer on some separate aspects in video art.

The possibility of synchron between image and sound is the first factor, which demonstrates in front of the artists the role of the natural noise in the video recording – phonic characteristics of the recorded process or event – as a possibility for art interpretation [6, 7].

The role of the natural noise in the video art is not only to underline that video art was born with simultaneous recording of image and sound, but also by stressing clearly on the sound atmosphere, in which the viewer is willingly immersed who perceives the video art not only with his eyes. The strategies are mainly two – underlining with strong sound so that this could be the main subject for perception and meaning construction and artificially decreased sound, which could be used only as a secondary means to highlight the whole atmosphere. As an example for the use of the natural noise, which presents, but on which the attention is not underlined is the video art of Rumen Bogdanov “Not named” (1999). The low volume of the sound from the steps of people who stride wearily the paved with huge granite pavement silent provincial street, gives us the feeling that life passes by quietly and undisturbed by anything  - only lead by its own rhythm in the deep countryside. People approach the camera, but its focus heads to a writing on the wall , on which it is fixed long enough so that the viewer could read the signs which are two. The smaller one informs us that we are in front of the entrance of the hall “Johny”, for the purpose of auctions, and the bigger is for “Sale and Buy of used furniture, technique and others”, as well as it gives credits. Caught half-phrases are heard and the viewer cannot catch the contents of a definite conversation, but he doesn’t need that. The voice of the person is boiled down to a situational sign so that silence and peace is demonstrated in front of the viewer of a wild and restless place which is the trading floor.

The opposite strategy – the role of the strong underlining and the “sign immersion” of the viewer in the sound atmosphere is used by Kalin Serapionov in his video art “My name is Samsonite” and by Ivan Mudov in his video art “Traffic Control”. Everything happens on the street and traffic noise is the leading beginning. I don’t know if the author of this video art knows the wonderful poem by Atanas Dalchev-“Plaintive Locomotive beeps call there time and again”, but the poesy (in the meaning of Sabina Hensgen) has made necessary such a symphony of street music in its noisegram, used by Mudov. A strong noise of car engines define the atmosphere of the video art. On a foreign territory, in Montenegro, the Bulgarian artist Ivan Mudov disguises himself in the uniform of a traffic police. Under the strong noise of the car engines, he takes out his particular clothes and puts on the uniform of a Bulgarian policeman. Here he is still in the norms of the allowed – the police uniforms there (in this country) are other and the viewer could think that this is the next dressed up for a carnival weirdo. A significant moment from the video is the showing of the specialized document for sound extraction – the metal police beep –which demonstrates in large size on the neck of the almost fully disguised as a policeman videoartist Mudov. The showing is still on the edge of the lawful and the law is trespassed in the direction of its breaking when the artist stands on the street traffic and starts regulating it, ignoring the functioning traffic lights. A sudden whistle with the beep stops the chaos of sounds, subordinating the attention of drivers and viewers alike on himself, and its visible form and sound significance perform a turning point for the video art. After the natural noise, the artists start thinking over the artificially generated noise in the structure of video art.

The role of the artificially generated noise is to separate the image of the person from his voice; to separate the heard from the seen; the seen from the percepted. In this case the role of the artificially generated sounds is a role of a form of sound and energy barrier, which either the man in the video or t5he viewer should put efforts into lifting, to shine the different


meaning nuclei of the video art. This strategy is very well used in the video art by Zornitsa – Sophia Popgancheva. Her work “Image vs Sound” (2000) uses some of the stylistics of the musical clips, but as an idea is far from them, because from one hand, it hasn’t got a musical character, and from the other it demonstrates sense of humor of its individual author. Zornitsa-Sofia uses a collection of sounds, produced by different domestic animals and these sounds are worked out-filtrated, mixed and layered, so that in the end the sounds and cacophony turns into a musical work of art.

The second strategy –accentuating on the heard and by it deciding what is happening – is the video art by Boriana–Rosa – “With gratitude to the next moment”, where the human emotions, expressed as screams of joy or fright, have passed through filters, summarizing them as sounds which are difficult to attach to human beings, disregarding the fact that image and sound are synchronized. This summary in fact permits the authoress to alienate the character from the individual characteristics of the voice and with the help of sounds to to show again what she doesn’t want or cannot possibly show due to a reason (moral, ethical, religious, political or other). In this way the viewer has the freedom, driven by the invisible – the sound to imagine the not shown [9].

One example for a video art whereas only artificially generated sounds are used, close to noise, in which the noise is issued by a photo camera at the time of photos is the video art by Miglena Minkova “8 BIT”. It is one of the signs that the electronic photo camera works, e.g. its signs that as a direct commercial product are taken out. To enrich the sound picture, it is combined with sounds, which imitate beat instruments. Their strikes are synchronized with the initial phases of the movement of the camera in space. These two types of sounds multiply and rhythmically repeat themselves by building one pleonastic presented sound media. This routine is disrupted only in the stopping of the process of functioning of the camera – in the snapshot a human arm appears, which presses the button continuously “stop”. This continuity of stopping is marked by a continuous artificial sound [10].

The role of a natural human voice is realized initially by a few video artists, but the expansion of the circle of artistic tasks, as well as the possibilities for their solution impose their usage. Apart from body, the artist presents his voice too. This strategy is used because of the very possibility the voice which is heard to be connected with the event, the idea, which is subject to presentation in video art. A definite effect of dialogue could be achieved by the taking turns of the male and female voice. Exclusively various are the possibilities of the voice and that is very well used by Valentin Stefanov and Nina Kovacheva in their video arts. Example of this is their video art where they use the strength and possibility of the human voice. This strategy helps show a very thin moment – how a person uses a foreign language to convince his interlocuters that he is the best. Different people are shown – men, women, young, old, with different color of the skin, height and weight. They are different, but there is something that unites them- in a language (this case-English) they try to convince the viewer in their supremacy – this is what the moustached very dark Roma man does , who shouts at full blast “am the bes”, prolonging the sound eee much more than usual and it becomes “bees”, this is what a homely middle aged lady does, who tries very clearly to articulate all sounds, by pronouncing “I”, “am”, “the”, “best”, with pauses between every word, listening to them and as if enjoying her voice.

The next strategy is using only the female and male voice. In the video “One thirtieth” – and that is exactly the ration of the area of the Balkan Peninsula in relation to the rest of the world, this fact 1/30 or 0,039225 or 3,39% - this fact is announced in Bulgarian in a digital image by Nina Kovacheva, and in another – by Valentin Stefanov. All these values, expressed mathematically in a different way, are also vocalized in Bulgarian, Greek, Turkish, Romanian, Serbian. In this way – vocally – is demonstrated bith a pattern from a phrase, pronounced in a different language, but concentrated on and the same topic, as well as the cultural differences


on the Balkan Peninsula – the language as sounds gives the impression of the rich ethnical diversity. Another video art of theirs “One, two, several, many Odysseys “ now transports us to Europe with its language realias – men and women from different nationalities tell the myth for Odyssey (Ullysses) in French, Spanish, English. The connecting part with the Balkan peninsula is the Greek language, which the authors masterfully use to remind the viewer, that the hero, to whom Omir has dedicated a whole cycle of songs with the summarized title “Ullysses” becomes later a synonym for the filled with adventures traveling around the world, is a hero of an ancient Greek mythology.

On the basis of the analysis done the following conclusions are outlined. The use of sound in video art boils down to the following two most major strategies – lack of sound in the presence of image; different types of sound in absence of sound, use of musical art works (foreign or own) as a background or illustration; human voices in different languages, combination of different by origin and way of reception sounds, natural noise background. Apart from the basic, the authors use different “mixes” of strategies with different time span, connected directly with their authors’ ideas, and a peculiar place has the “Narcisstic” (author’s own) talking or silence. The modern authors of video art more and more give an account of how powerful and active means the sound could be in their video art works and that is why today as a rule the video art is “overloaded” with sound.

Special thanks. The author wishes to thank the video artists Krassimir Krystev–Rasim, Doychin Rusev, Georgi Rujev and Dobromir –Ivan for the clarifications, connected with the history of creation of their video art works, as well as associate professor Borislav Serginov for the preliminary discussions and notes for the use of the musical art works.



1.      Acconci, V. Lecture at Albright-Knox Art Gallery. – New York: Studio MACBA,1995, p. 453.

2.      Adorno, T. Wiesengrund, Théorie esthétique. – Paris,1974, р. 514.

3.      Armes, R. On Video. – London et all., 1988, p. 256.

4.      Belting, H. Pour une anthropologie des images. – Paris, 2003, p. 456.

5.      Berger, H., R. Berger. L`art vidéo: défis et paradoxes. – Lausanne, 1974, p. 24.

6.      Bouman, Margot. A broken piece of an absent whole: Experimental video and its spaces of production and reception: Dissertation. Ph.D., University of Rochester. – United States, New York, 2009, 326 p.

7.      Falkenberg, Merrill Brooke. Circuits of exchange: The myth of interactivity in video art: Dissertation Ph.D. – United States, California: Stanford University, 2002. – 244 p.

8.      Stefanov, Sv. Videoart in Bulgaria. Donumenta Ars Danubiana. Exibition Catalogue. – Regensburg, 2005, p. 50.

9.      Turim, М. The Cultural Logic of Video. Illuminating Video: An Essential Guide to Video Art. –Metuchen, NJ: Aperture Press, 1991, рp. 331-342.

10.  Video: The reflexive medium. – London, 2005, p. 20.


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Автор: ulian
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