This chapter challenges the aesthetic paradigm of “synaesthesia,” the banner under which sound so often appears in visual arts contexts today. It argues that, in contemporary art, the discourse of synaesthesia is predominantly conservative and recuperative, ultimately supporting the dominance of the visual and resisting the incursion of sound into visual arts spaces. Exploring the tensions between the assimilation and the segregation of sound and image in the history of modern visual art and film, the chapter shows how contemporary filmmakers and video artists such as Mathias Poledna, Manon DeBoer, Julian Rosefeldt, Luke Fowler, and the Sensory Ethnography Lab propose counter-strategies that reject the fantasy of sensorial fusion and instead affirm productive differences and tensions between sound and image, seeing and hearing.
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