1975-1979 | 25 minutes | UK | 16mm | b&w | sound
In this groundbreaking work, Rhodes plays with our preconception of film by presenting the soundtrack as a series of horizontal and vertical lines that were drawn with pen and ink on the optical edge of the filmstrip. These are projected onto two opposite facing screens in a hazy room. As the films roll, they appear as an ‘optical soundtrack’. What the viewer hears, on the other hand, is the audible equivalent of the alternating images on the screens. The space between the two screens turns the beams into airy sculptural forms consisting of light, shadow and smoke, which encourages the viewer to move around the room. This in turns destroys conventional film watching codes and turns the film into a collective practice where the audience is expected to intervene into the work and thus, become the performer. This work was the artist’s reaction to what she perceives as a lack of interest and appreciation of European women composers. Thus in Light Music, Lis Rhodes interweaves cinematic practices with a range of topics from gender politics to phenomenological experience.
The film is not complete as a totality; it could well be different and still achieve its purpose of exploring the possibilities of optical sound. It is as much about sound as it is about image; their relationship is necessarily dependent as the optical soundtrack “makes” the music. It is the machinery itself that imposes this relationship. The image throughout is composed of straight lines. It need not have been. – Lis Rhodes