A question I have that remains still unanswered for me is on the necessity of human characters in film/video texts. As I have discussed before, I am especially interested in finding a way towards accessibility that is beyond the logic of a narrative book-film. I have thus proposed the sound-film based on the logic of music, however, I am bothered by the question of character identification. What is it that produces commitment to a temporal text? Identification with characters is often one of the factors described. How many times has someone criticized a film for producing cheap and hollow characters that made them want to stop watching a film halfway through due to lack of investment. To be invested is to allow affect to come into play in relation to the text so that the question is ultimately one of how affect is managed and produced.
Narrative logic manages affect through its characters who are placed into circumstances that produce the story of interest and this is the commitment of the narrative film. The commitment of music is generally based on several factors which include the literal text of the lyrics if any are present and the affect produced from the sounds themselves including the base of rhythm if any is present. Thus, one could say that music is a more direct path towards affect production while a narrative film must first establish itself in certain ways to do this. If one is to attempt to produce an affective work of film or video without people and without anthropomorphizing other entities (such as in nature films) then what is necessary? One can produce a complex soundtrack that engages with images but how does one escape the sense of arbitrariness in the montage without humans or a contextualizing overarching text? The non-visuality of music allows for a more open montage but also produces a higher sense of arbitrariness. I believe this was one of the main problems of Koyaanisqatsi and one of the reasons why, despite only being 86 minutes long, it felt like one of the longest films I had ever seen. Perhaps there is no escape from this in a pure sound-film and the only solution is to produce hybridized texts that include some modified narrative structures such as the “isolated affect” which I describe as a decontextualized shock of highly charged emotional energy. In other words, it is a climax without context, working towards the goal of affective engagement without having to produce a highly elaborate narrative edifice; supported instead by other means.