Emotions in Sound: Audiovisual Metaphors in the Sound Design of Narrative Films

in Projections

This article discusses the ways sound design in film guides the emotional affect of both sound and pictures on the viewer. Following the theory of conceptual metaphors, the article proposes an approach to "audiovisual metaphors," analyzing emotional and embodied aspects of film sound. It states that pictures and sound have to share emotional and physical characteristics that can be merged by sound designers conceptually and metaphorically in order to improve the emotional and physical affects of a fictional character or object in a film. Thus it argues that the synchresis (audiovisual fusing) of pictures and sound is most effective when embodied image schemata are used by sound design that guide, on an unconscious level, our perception of film. In audiovisual metaphors, image schemata as "force" or "balance" are projected on sound and pictures that create an audiovisual and emotional gestalt of the objects. Using examples from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish, the article shows how the emotional attributes of fictional character, spaces, and objects can be conceptualized metaphorically, via their very materiality, by sound design—attributes that are perceived prominently on a presymbolic and preconscious level by the viewers but that communicate complex cultural and narrative meanings.