Requiem for a Hammock from Susie Alderman on Vimeo.
Furthering development from my previous pieces, Silent Recollections and Warm Tea, Requiem for a Hammock explores the notion of ‘Where I’m From’ through a gentle reminiscent quality and yearning for the simplicity of the past.
The first half of this piece manipulates time and creates a rapid progression of action through a collection of simple imagery, cut together rapidly. The term “hip-hop montage” was first coined by Daren Aronofsky, director of Requiem for a Dream (2000), a film which heavily inspired the techniques used in this piece. Fast cutting, as it is more commonly known, is used by Aronofsky to pursue a rhythmic progression of time, as well as creating a sensory impact for the viewer (Laine, 2015, pp.45-46). I have used this technique to create a busy, restless, and impatient pace throughout the first half, which makes a viewer feel slightly uncomfortable and apprehensive.
The images have been juxtaposed with contradictory sound effects to create a dynamic relationship between the audio and visual elements. This creates an indefinite middle ground between diegetic and non-diegetic sounds. In creating these sounds, I was inspired by the way Ben Burtt used complex engineering and great imagination to build audio effects. As described by Whittington, “in the science fiction genre, it is at times both easier and more difficult to examine sound effects as constructions because our perceptions and expectations get in the way (2007, p. 97). Many of the sound effects have been captured in an experimental manner, and then distorted in Audacity to render them as almost un identifiable from the original source.
Sound has been manipulated to be unrecognisable from its initial form, especially when paired with the contradictory visual stimulus. In doing so, the viewer is left feeling chaotic and muddled, confused as their brain tries to translate the sounds at such a rapid pace. This technique accentuates the rhythm of the piece and rapidly progresses the narrative. As Kulezic-Wilson explains, Aronofsky similarly uses this approach to “underplay the narrative aspect of the audio-visual material in order to accentuate the visual one” (2015, p. 147).
Meanwhile, the entire second half of the piece changes pace completely to a calming, reflective feel. Set to the soundtrack of “Down in the Valley” by Andy Griffith, audio and video editing techniques have been used to draw the viewer from the chaos of inside, into an outdoor, calming space – contrasting heavily with the first half of the film. Taking this audio sample from the 1960’s American situation comedy, it is hoped that this experimental and somewhat unconventional method of editing creates a more global feel to the piece. The song itself has been chosen to conform with copyright laws, as well as extending the global appeal of the piece beyond purely an Australian film. As O’Regan argues, with regard to Australian cinema, scholars must adopt “multiple and diverse points of view”, because “national writing is that critical practice which thoroughly establishes and routinely works through the heteroclite nature of cinema” (1996). To improve the global reach of this piece, a piece of music could be chosen from a non-western background.
Kulezic-Wilson, D. 2015, The Musicality of Narrative Film, Palgrave Macmillan Limited, New York, p. 147
Laine, T. 2015, Bodies in Pain : Emotion and the Cinema of Darren Aronofsky, Berghahn Books, New York, pp.45-46.
O’Regan, T. 1996, Australian National Cinema, Routledge, London.
Whittington, W. 2007, Sound Design and Science Fiction, University of Texas Press, Austin, p.97.