Audiovisual illusion. Lacan and Zizek

July 31, 2007

In Audio-Vision, Chion boldy suggests that our senses are separate and disparate, describing synchresis as falsely ‘natural’ and ‘immediate’ and ultimately an illusionary experience. Rather than balancing the argument with talk of synesthesia and it’s associated art works I want to focus on this idea of illusion.

An earlier post on David Lynch provides a wonderful example of Lynch exposing this illusion. In ‘Club Silencio’ Lynch creates a moment of almost reverse synchresis providing an AV experience that feels unnatural, stressing that we cannot help but be affected and fooled by this AV trickery. Lynch provides a similar effect through eerie drones, the lack of recorded sound, or audio and visual effects/distortions, (think the Red Room in Twin Peaks) expossing an inescapable illusion.

This blog post really got me thinking. Lynch is essentially and brilliantly pointing out, that illusion (or fantasy) is inescapable and essential to reality. Enter Lacanian thought/Slavoj Zizek.

In Cyberspace, Zizek writes about the interface and the ‘fantasy screens’ of computing:

    What is a fantasy screen, an “interface”? Sometimes we find it even in nature, as in the case of the Cerknica lake in Slovenia: this intermittent lake (during its seasonal eruption, the water throws fishes into the air) was experienced as a kind of magic screen, a miracle of something emerging out of a void. As early as the seventeenth century, this phenomenon intrigued natural scientists—a Slovene author, Janez Valvasor, became a member of the British Royal Academy for providing an explanation of this mystery (an intricate network of underground channels with different pressures). Perhaps, this is the most elementary definition of a mechanism: a machine which produces an effect in the precise sense of a ‘magical’ effect of sense, of an event which involves a gap between itself as the raw bodily materiality—a mechanism is that which accounts for the emergence of an “illusion.” The crucial point here is that the insight into the mechanism does not destroy the illusion, the “effect,” it even strengthens it insofar as it renders palpable the gap between the bodily causes and their surface-effect.

The illusion of synchresis could be seen in the same light. We may know the mechanics of its illusion, but the illusion is just as, if not more powerful. Lynch’s audiovisual disjunctions reveal a gap between surface effect and reality – could fused AV works through the creation of an illusion mechanism, through simulating an unreal relationship, reveal the same gap?

Zizek’s quote would suggest that the pursuit of audio visual fusion is not the pursuit of the pure and interrupted functioning of fantasy. A constructed AV relationship while an effective illusion could also be seen to render palpable the gap between audio and vision. Perhaps this is it’s lure?

The hard part now. Investigating this creatively…

The Real as the irreducible gap between vision and audio?
Could AV illusion offer us a peak into the impossible Real?
How to investigate the fantasmic aspects of the audio-visual relation?

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2 Responses to “Audiovisual illusion. Lacan and Zizek”


  1. Hey, great post. I just rewatched the entire Twin Peaks series and have been thinking about these very issues across Lynch’s body of work.

    I just mentioned this post on my site.


  2. […] on Intertwingled, a great blog I’ve been reading for the last several month. The piece, entitled Audiovisual illusion: Lacan and Zizek, highlights several instances of David Lynch laying bare the illusionary nature of audio visual […]

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