Soundfigures: Films by Aura Satz

(Near) extinct technologies make sound visible in this program of shorts by London-based artist Aura Satz that delve into ideas of knowledge, memory, and communication. On a Chladni Plate, a device that marked the birth of acoustics, grains of sand, moving like Busby Berkeley dancers, form intricate patterns in response to changing sound frequencies, their shapes recalling the utopian quest for a “pure,” onomatopoeic alphabet. Wax cylinder recordings combine with modern scientific instruments to animate a text by Rainer Maria Rilke on the possibility of hearing the dead by playing their skulls with a gramophone needle. A Ruben’s Tube translates a histrionic voice-over into a standing wave of small flames, provoking unexpected associations, from the biblical burning bush to various acts of ventriloquism in pop culture. Breaking its long silence, the Oramics Machine plays hand-drawn compositions by its inventor, electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram. Kaleidoscopic effects in the lamphouse of a 35mm film printer honour Natalie Kalmus, colour consultant on masterpieces of the Technicolor era. Chromatic distortions in early colour-film tests are revealed through the eyes of the George Eastman family and old Hollywood stars. In a dramatic finale, Satz and experimental filmmaker Lis Rhodes encode their voices as abstract light patterns on 16mm mono and 35mm stereo filmstrips in a collaborative exploration of sound-image synchronicity.

Onomatopoeic Alphabet | Great Britain 2010. 6 min. DCP
Sound Seam | Great Britain 2010. 15 min. DCP
Vocal Flame | Great Britain 2012. 9 min. DCP
Oramics: Atlantis Anew | Great Britain 2011. 7 min. DCP
Doorway for Natalie Kalmus | Great Britain 2013. 9 min. DCP
Chromatic Aberration | Great Britain 2014. 9 min. DCP
In and Out of Synch | Great Britain 2012. 20 min. 16mm