In the final part of her series on Embodiment in Sound, Martine Huvenne turns to Institute Benjamenta (1995), the first feature by the Quay Brothers. She investigates the construction of the film’s soundtrack with the Quays and its editor/sound designer Larry Sider. The film, a combination of live-action and animation, was based on Robert Walser’s novel Jakob von Gunten
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The Quay Brothers were born in Pennsylvania where they studied at the Philadelphia College of Art and then later in London at the Royal College of Art. Filmmakers by choice and specialising in puppet animation, they also design for the theatre, opera and ballet and have completed two live-action feature films.
Theatre and Opera: The Birthday Party (Harold Pinter Theatre), An Evening At The Talkhouse (National Theatre), Theatre Of The World (Amsterdam/ L.A Philharmonic), Love For Three Oranges (Opera North/ENO), A Flea In Her Ear (Old Vic), Mazeppa (Bregenz Festival/Nederland Opera), Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (National Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Almeida), The Chairs (Royal Court) and Baalaams Fest (Weiner Festwochen), The Cricket Recovers (Aldeburgh/Almeida) and Paul Bunyan (Bregenz/Luzern).
Ballets: Dybbuk (The Place), The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other (Malmö Dramatiska Theatre), Cupid and Psyche (Royal Danish Ballet), Life is a Dream (Ballet Rambert) choreographed by Kim Brandstrup.
Films: A hybrid variety of puppet animation short films: Street of Crocodiles; In Absentia, Maska, Kafka’s Metamorphosis, The Doll’s Breath. Live-Action films: Institute Benjamenta & PianoTuner of EarthQuakes. Documentary Films: Anamorphosis; The Phantom Museum; Through the Weeping Glass; Inventiorium of Traces.
Television: Ballet films with Will Tuckett: Duet and Sandman. Installation Pieces: Castle Belsay The Coffin of a Servant’s Journey and for Opera North Eurydice, She So Beloved. The décors from their puppet films »DORMITORIUM« is currently an international touring exhibition having been seen at MoMA and subsequently in Barcelona, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Riga, Exeter, Wroclaw, Lublin, Lisboa and Jeonju.
Larry Sider is a sound designer and film editor who has worked for forty years in documentary, animation and fiction. Among his credits are soundtracks for Patrick Keiller’s London, Robinson in Space and Robinson in Ruins; the Quay Brothers’ early animations including Street of Crocodiles, and live-action features Institute Benjamenta and The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes; and Dave McKean’s animated feature, Mirrormask. In the 80s and 90s he worked with Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen on films that brought together theory, experimental practice, politics and philosophy – Penthesilea, Riddles of the Sphinx, AMY!, Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti, and Crystal Gazing. He then collaborated with them on their individual projects – Disgraced Monuments (Mulvey) and Images of Atlantis and The Photography of Milton Rogovin (Wollen). Other films include Simon Pummell’s Secret Joy of Falling Angels and Blinded by Light along with a series of arts documentaries produced directed by Keith Griffiths and John Ellis.
This work inspired the creation of The School of Sound with his partner, Diane Sider. The SOS was conceived as a way of promoting the awareness of sound across all the arts and media. From these meetings has come the book, Soundscape: The School of Sound Lectures.
Since 2015 he has taught Goldsmiths’ MA Filmmaking as Convenor of the MA Sound Recording, Post-Production and Design. From 2002-2006 he was Head of Editing, Music and Sound at the National Film and Television School. He was co-editor of The Soundtrack and The New Soundtrack journals.
Dr. Martine Huvenne retired after a career teaching and researching in the audio-visual field. She was a senior lecturer in Sound and Music for Film at the Kask – Conservatorium School of Arts, Ghent, where she developed a phenomenological approach to music and listening. She graduated from the University of Amsterdam in 2012 with a dissertation on sound in film, “The sound in film as an inner movement in the transfer of an experience in film: a phenomenological approach.” Her research and teaching focuses on the auditory aspect of the creative process of filmmaking. Huvenne was curator and co-organizer of the Film Fest Gent annual Seminar on Music and Sound in Film. She coordinated the curriculum development of the European Postgraduate in Arts in Sound (EPAS).
Martine’s new book, The Audiovisual Chord: Embodied Listening in Film, published by Palgrave Studies in Sound, 2022, is available online.
Read her essay, ‘Transmitting an Experience’, in the TEACHING section of this website.