Listening – Feeling – Becoming: Screen Sound and Surveillance

Professor Miguel Mera (City, University of London)

Surveillance, according to Lyon, Haggerty and Ball is the dominant organising practice of late modernity and it is unsurprising, therefore, that narratives about surveillance and their recurrent tropes have increasingly appeared in screen media from the end of the Second World War onwards. This presentation explores the sensory evolution of surveillance representation, with a particular focus on the role of sound in shaping what I call the corpo‘real’. Screened surveillance initially used sound to make ‘real’ its affective and embodied impact, but then evolved into bodies that are, literally, embedded within the surveillant apparatus. At the same time, the intensifying modes of embodied surveillance representation diminished the importance of discrete listening, which became subsumed within the audiovisual/body amalgam. I trace some of the ways in which surveillance has shifted its attention from the audible and the sensory to the embodied. As surveillance in society has expanded and intensified, screen representations have grappled with challenging questions of interiority and exteriority through a journey from listening through feeling to becoming.

Miguel Mera is Professor of Music and Associate Dean (Research and Enterprise) in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at City, University of London. He is a composer of music for the moving image and a musicologist. His film and television music has been broadcast around the world. Miguel is the author of European Film Music (2006), Mychael Danna’s The Ice Storm: A Film Score Guide (2007), and co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Screen Music and Sound (2017).

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