Budhaditya Chattopadhyay opened the event with a personal, self-reflective account of his initial encounters with yje cinematic experience, which, in his own words, sparked his curiosity about the "construction of the sonic world," and later on led to developing a "critical attitude towards film sound." 

Sonification of Environments:

Contemporary Film Sound Research

Budhaditya Chattopadhyay

January 11, 2022, studio LOOS

In his two recently published books, The Auditory Setting: Environmental Sounds in Film and Media Arts (Edinburgh University Press, 2011) and Between the Headphones: Listening to the Practitioner (Cambride Scholars Publishing, 2011), Budhaditya uses the Sharawdji effect as a basic hypothesis. The Sharawdji effect is phenomenon which tries to explain how environmental sounds affect human hearing. It highlights the "small but subliminal" sounds that can fill the observer with joy and appreciation towards their environment, and that open up a sensation of plenitude and inexplicable beauty. The Sharawdji effect is suggested as a starting point for a discourse about film and media arts in relation to sonic arts.



A shift in the contemporary discourse about film sound has occured in the last years. Contemporary resreachers such as Jay Beck, Andrew Isenberg, and Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, "question the overarching comparison of sound with image and emphasize sound’s role and the potential of listening as a specific and separate area of research. The idea that sound is more than a flat, screen-centric soundtrack which follows the visual narrative has destabilized the notion of a soundtrack" in its more traditional sense. In this sense, we witness an emancipation of the soundtrack, "liberating" it from a total submission to the visual medium. Budhaditya’s approach is also transdisciplinary, integrating the visual and the sonic mediums.

Budhaditya suggests the term Mise-en-sonore to describe the auditory settings of a film produced by means of ambient sounds (borrowing from the more frequently used term Mise-en-scène, the "placing on stage" in theater or film using stage design). Budhaditya "questions conventional assumptions about sound and film and media, such as audio-visual relationship, and shifts the focus towards the site and its sonic environment." He further asserst, "these ideas contribute to the emergent discourse in sonic research concerning the relationship between site, environment, sound, and mediation, approached from a (sound-)practice perspective."

During his presentation, Budhaditya has narrated excerpts from two films, Sátántangó (1994) by Béla Tarr and Besieged (1998) by Bernardo Bertolucci. In his intervention / commentatry, he relates to the environmental effects that create the soundtrack and suggests a critical interpretation for the sounds.

During the second half of the presentation, Budhaditya performed his work Aural Drift (commissioned by Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt in 2021). He uses field recordings from seven different locations in the city of Offenbach as material for close listening and reflection, creating sonic archaeology which relies on technology – both for recording the sounds and for mediating the result – to enhance and recreate an immersive experience by "zooming in" on the ambient sounds. Using technology, details which are normally inaudible to normal human perception can be brought out, and an in-depth audio-cinematic experience of the locations can be created.


Listen to Aural Drift & read the accompanying texts online (headphones recommended)



Watch the live performance at Studio LOOS: