Critical Perspectives on the European Mediasphere. The intellectual work of the 2011 European media and communication doctoral summer school.

Title chapter: Foley Artists – Wiring acoustic spaces in cinema, TV and radio plays
Author: Heiner Stahl
Keywords: acoustic space, folley artists, McLuhan, sound, memory, studio
Abstract: Radio plays developed out of theatre performances, with microphones upfront. The genre of the radio feature was given a major boost in the early 1970s by the collaging and bricolaging of recorded sound and noise from the real world outside the studio. A broadcasting studio is a laboratory with specific constraints. And at least in terms of broadcasting, we can state that, in the late 1950s, the functions and tasks of Foley Artists volatilised and diffused step by step, as they were replaced by sound effect libraries and sound databases. Jack Donovan Foley, an engineer working at Universal, successfully manipulated existing recording technology. Foley manipulated all sorts of requisites in order to record effects and sounds on a layer and audio track. This was an exercise that later became the recording technique of dubbing, in which one layer is substituted by another. In respect of radio plays and broadcasting from the early days until the mid-1950s, adding sound was the job of ‘Foley Artists’. By examining those artists and media professionals, I am aiming to test two theoretical approaches. One is the concept of acoustic space highlighted by Marshall McLuhan (interview by Norden, 1969), while the second is Raymond Murray Schafer’s (1973) idea of a soundscape. My purpose is to set out a suitable approach to reintroducing the manual and physical production and creation of sounds– still minority positions – into academic discussion at the interface of communication studies, media and film Studies, literature studies and the newer and dazzling strand of sound studies. And those theoretical concepts are no longer fit for instant use, and have to be readjusted, “pimped up”.
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