Mediated Auscultation aligns cinema and the stethoscope. It asks how one form of media (the stethoscope) might reveal something about another (cinema), thinking through both as technologies of “mediated auscultation”. This phrase hails from stethoscope inventor Rene Laennec’s treatise on the diagnosis and diseases of the lungs and heart from 1819 and it is defined in contrast to immediate auscultation—that is, the direct application of the ear to the body of the patient. More recently, sound theorist and historian Jonathan Sterne defined mediated auscultation as the practice of “listening to movements inside the body with the aid of an instrument, at a physical distance” (2003: 128). It is this definition of mediated auscultation that this video essay extends to cinema, conceiving of it as an instrument that opens a technologically mediated aural pathway towards the body via sound, allowing us to listen to its murmurings and exhalations at the surface and at a physical distance in ways that decompose the traditional boundaries of the body. In both cases - cinema and stethoscope - sound is subtended by an image, by sight, a stillness; both provide an immersive experience of the interior; and both entail a split between sound and body, sound and listener. This unique combination of factors provides the basis for the analogy of cinema as stethoscope.
|Publication status||Published - 2021|