Painting with sound: the kaleidoscopic world of Lance Sieveking, a British Radio Modernist

Hendy, D J (2013) Painting with sound: the kaleidoscopic world of Lance Sieveking, a British Radio Modernist. Twentieth Century British History, 24 (2). pp. 169-200. ISSN 0955-2359

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In the late 1920s, British Radio became briefly and creatively entwined with a broader modernist culture. Largely through a series of spectacular programmes such as The Kaleidoscope (1928), made by the producer Lance Sieveking, the BBC started to develop an ‘art’ of sound. This episode has generally been passed over in histories of modernism and broadcasting: at best, it has been seen as a brief and whimsical piece of formal experimentation. But through examining Sieveking’s private papers, this article shows that this new art of sound was rich in meanings and symbolism, and had a wider influence than has hitherto been assumed. Sieveking drew heavily on his own life, which encompassed imprisonment and flying during the First World War, and a glittering array of social acquaintances, which connected him with the most advanced artistic thinking. This led him to find ways of representing in sound the subjective mental experiences and jumble of memories that so fascinated modernist artists in an age influenced by popular Freudianism. Sieveking’s life and writing also shows how he drew boldly from the visual language of experimental silent cinema at a critical moment in its own development. In creating a complex montage style for radio, Sieveking also anticipated some of the aesthetic devices that would be deployed in the coming era of sound on film. Sieveking and his programmes therefore illustrate a particular moment of British cultural history when the creative boundaries between different media were especially porous, with highly creative results.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Online first publication: Sep 2, 2012
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general > NX0440 History of the arts > NX0456 20th century. General works > NX0456.5 Special aspects or movements, A-Z > NX0456.5.M64 Modernism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
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Depositing User: Catrina Hey
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2012 13:12
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2019 02:39

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