The Grand Transparents

The Grand Transparents are a collection of audiovisual vignettes that explore novel interactions, relationships and paradoxes between visual and auditory stimuli.

In his Surrealist Manifesto, André Breton speculates about the existence of Grand Transparents: higher­ dimensional beings that are impossible to see or even conceptualize, but that nevertheless create disturbances in our world. Breton asks “Must these beings be convinced that they result from a mirage or must they be given a chance to show themselves?”

Sound-Artist Gabriel Bolaños is collaborating with various artists (Carolina Gonzalez Valencia, Matt Gilbert, and Tomas Vengris) on a series of short films inspired by the Grand Transparents. The videos include experimental stop­ motion animation to create abstract organisms and biologically ­inspired systems, macro shots with unusual lighting and angles, and live action footage. Each film will have a composite electroacoustic score that blurs the lines between music, sound effects, noise, foley and dialogue. With this collection, we hope to celebrate the immensity of the unknown, and explore new paradigms for controlling and manipulating the relationship between visual and auditory stimuli. This project will serve as a springboard to help guide future multimedia projects: a written analysis of our methods and theoretical findings will be published online after the collection is completed and premiered.

Using theories of ecological listening (how our sense of hearing evolved primarily to interpret our environment), visual perception, and psychoacoustics, we will systematically explore various aesthetic and perceptual implications of manipulating the relationship between what we see and what we hear. Our goal is to create unfamiliar ecosystems where unusual relationships, interactions and paradoxes are not only possible, but strangely commonplace.

Each short is an independent audiovisual étude: some have clear narratives and obvious correlations between image, movement and sound, while others are highly abstract. By creating multiple modular pieces, we want to maximize our freedom to take risks in order to more thoroughly explore the interactions between visual and auditory perception, and experiment freely within this burgeoning multidisciplinary genre.

“Macro” explores analogues between filming with a macro lens and recording with close-miking techniques. By zooming in on everyday objects and sounds, I sought to create a surreal ecosystem where things are simultaneously recognizable and unrecognizable. Video and sound by Gabriel Bolaños.

“Postales” is a collaboration with Carolina Gonzalez Valencia, and grew out of her creative work related to postcards. These four postales blur the line between still image and video, and explore the dichotomy of physical and emotional interior/exterior. All of the sounds are derived from Carolina’s reading of text that one might find on a postcard. It’s not necessary to understand the text, but it evokes homesickness, missing family, and sharing details of one’s day-to-day life with a loved one. Video and animation by Carolina Gonzalez Valencia, sound by Gabriel Bolaños.

“Crash Loop” was inspired by the black and white ubiquitous to Max/MSP Jitter video tutorials. The audio purposefully blurs the line between music and foley, and develops through very simple Steve Reich-like phasing and looping. This version is a short draft. Video and sound by Gabriel Bolaños with footage from NHTSA.