Since the 1990s, musicologists have written of “pure” music and listening being endangered by the rise of visual media. More recently, media scholars have begun to speak of an “audiovisual turn” in digital culture. However, both the proliferation of lens and image-projection technologies and their encounters with music began far earlier than narratives of audiovisualization and histories of multimedia have allowed. Moreover, the prevalence of analogies between the senses and strategies of substitution attests to a much more flexible, adaptable sensorium than the notion of sense ratios, redistributing fixed perceptual resources, allows. Today’s “audiovisual turn” is thus also an audiovisual return – of the medial hybridities and sensory mixtures that have always characterized musical practice and experience, but have been repressed by modern aesthetics and modernist historiographies. The period from Haydn to Beethoven was, like ours, one of rapid multiplication in technological sights and sounds, of confronting the new in perceptual experiences and ways of using the body – of audiovisual culture in transition.
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