Synchronization as a Sound-Image Relationship

1 Synchronization as a Sound-Image Relationship

Synchronization generally denotes practices, techniques, or processes involved in the assembly or coordination of different timelines, the distribution of time, or the creation of simultaneity.[1] This vague definition suggests that there are various possibilities for synchronization and its conceptualization, which in turn correspond with different concepts of time: is there such a thing as absolute time, a center with which local times are synchronized? Or the other way around: are there actually heterogeneous, distinct times that, when they meet, generate something like an in-between or overlapping time where they join?[2] If the audiovisual media are defined as the technical and time-based media of seeing and hearing, this already implies that the relationship between sound and image as well as between hearing and seeing is primarily characterized by their specific problems with respect to synchronization in these media. From the perspective of media history, the vagueness of the term synchronization is interesting, in particular in view of the relationship between the senses and media: where is the simultaneity of seeing and hearing produced? Somewhere between the medium and the viewer? This is where discourses about what the terms asynchronism[3] or synchresis[4] mean begin. A look at the prominent historical points with respect to the technical interconnection of image and sound media — from Edison’s Kineto-phonographs to digital audiovisual formats — shows that the individual technical media for image and sound involved change, as do the methods of their synchronization. Accordingly, such a comparison of different methods of synchronization does not initially raise the question of what an image or a sound actually is, but what relationships they take up with one another. More precisely: in which temporal relationships and at what positions can sounds and images occur in audiovisual arrangements? These audiovisual structures can be described as different distributions of media-related functions such as storing, transmitting, and processing between the devices, things, people, etc., participating in the recording, editing, and presentation.[5] This allows conceiving of them as interfaces between the production of time and the time of production.