Speaking Out: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice

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Speaking Out: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice
Saturday 6 February 2010, 10.30–17.30
This symposium focuses on the use of the spoken word in artistic practice and its manifestations in sonic and audiovisual art works. Taking the lead from the recently published anthology of works Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice, this event encompasses performances, talks and conversations by artists and researchers who employ spoken words as their material and inspiration. source

You can find the program here. I've also included the blurs and bios as bookends to my reflections on each presentation.


FIRST DRAFT

General Impressions:

  • Immediate context: sound art (understood in a very open-ended way).
  • Alternative literacies = the challenge: to assume an open posture for engaging with this kind of work. Fascinating: the ways in which the visual reasserts itself in sound art - indicates a long tradition of occularcentrism in art more generally. Example: When Brandon LaBelle went to the podium, launched The sound at the back of my mouth from the computer and maintained his position in front of the audience for the duration of the video. This suggests that being seen was important to LaBelle... The film could have been started from the projection room.
  • Structure of the symposium = conventional - sound art shoehorned into the an academic conference format - useful to observe where this did and did not work...
  • Diversity of presentations - focused more on the materiality of language than its literary potential (its allegorical significance, for example). Program showed a concern with representing different approaches and points of view (however, white male artists still dominated).
  • Some artists working with sound; other artists "sound artists" - varied sensibilities (distinction between types impressionistic - fleeting). "Sound artists": more concerned with a) sound as something concrete; b) sound as something accessible (everyone makes sound); c) the ways in which technology mediates sound; d) the music of sound as an everyday phenomenon. "Other artists" concerned more with the history, sociology and psychology of sound. Many "artist writers"; regret not more opportunity to elaborate the relations between these aspects of practice.
  • Less concern with the historical avant-garde's preoccupation with liberating language; more interest in highlighting specific geo-historical codes and conditions--and play (Lane's observation). Delicate balance between identifying the codes of the Other and colonizing these codes through (attempts at) translation. Shadow of 80s/90s identify politics and their legacies.
  • Premium placed on performance; less on commentary/reflection on the performer's respective works - tendency for the performances to "speak for themselves" (though not always the case - witness Imogen Stidworthy's approach to talking around her work by highlighting impulses/points of departure as a way of building a context for immediate engagement). Indicates a lack of access, perhaps: the symposium offered as much an opportunity for disseminating the works as it did a context for discussion on the spoken word in contemporary art more generally.
  • Not much discussion of Research (with a capital "R") in sound art. More concern with "research" (with a lowercase "r") as a process of finding things out. May indicate the context of the symposium at Tate - still, many audience members associated with research culture - good showing from UAL students (many of whom were in Tomomi's voice choir); fewer staff.
  • (Art) discourse not really interrogated: limited concern with mapping "sound art" as a category in contemporary art and of thinking through how/why this category normalizes certain assumptions about sound.
  • Symposium's Rhythm - Performers/presenters seemed at liberty to use their half an hour as they saw fit. Some "live" performances (Tomoni, Parry, Inua 'phaze Ellams). Q&A at the end of the day meant there wasn't much time to engage with the individual performances/the work of individual performers. The presentations were generally short; there would have been ops for discussion had there been no glitches with the tech. Yet these glitches also created space/time for conversations, most notably when a CD player wouldn't play Wishart Globalaia. We watched and listened to the poor technician from LCC turn to machine on and off, trying to get the disk to play. A performance in its own right. Will we ever have dependable technology? General tech setup was very complex to support an environment of immersion - speakers along both sides of the auditorium served to spatialize the sound. The soundscapes offered by Wishart and Marcia provided a welcome instance for contemplating the symposium while still being immersed in the space-time of this event. It strikes me this could have critical potential in other kinds of symposiums by creating opportunities for contemplating these complex contexts onsite. Break for tea in the afternoon: created space for informal conversation - Enjoyed a fascinating conversation with artist Kelly Large and voice teacher/speech and language therapist Melanie Mehta, where we talked about the ways in which we project language in a space (Large and Mehta worked together on the recent exhibition 744 x 744 x 744 at Limoncello)...as well as how we occupy language -- occupy words and, in the process, the words occupy us--a kind of reciprocal tenancy.
  • Lots of atmospheric language fragments - exemplified in the work of Tomomi, Wichart and Marcia.

Cathy Lane (co-director of CRiSAP): Introduction

  • An thoughtful and provocative introduction that moved between the personal and the historical while also offering a brief survey of the history of spoken word in western art.
  • Began by locating her impressions in her own experience. Discussed her own lack of interest in the verbal in the context of her sound work. Doesn't like opera, doesn't work with poetry yet finds herself playing with words in her research. (Recently edited a book Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice, an anthology of works from over forty leading contemporary sound artists and composers who use words as their material and inspiration.)
  • Words resonate in various ways: semantics, authorship, musicality, the context of speech, etc.
  • Working with words has benefited from technological developments - transmission, deconstruction
  • The relationship between language and sound
  • Surveyed the historical avant-garde's episodic tradition and its efforts to liberate the spoken work. (including Marinetti's Imagination Without Strings and David Burliuk, Alexander Kruchenykh, Vladmir Mayakovsky, Victor Khlebnikov's A Slap in the Face of Public Taste) Wonders if this concern with liberation still holds true for contemporary artists working with verbal language?
  • Emergence of new languages and new insights/understanding of language more generally: psychology of language, philosophy of language, psycho linguistics.
  • Concern with relations between language and speakers - authorship - and language underpinning (enabling) human interaction.
  • Evergreen questions: Who is speaking and with what authority? (Reminds of Foucault's reference to Becket and whether it matters who is speaking - how speech calls a subject into being, so the subject is constituted through this act...)
  • Tensions between outer and inner voice(s).
  • The role of speech as a form/record of listening - for example, bearing witness.

Cathy Lane is interested in sound and how it relates to the past, our histories, our environment and our collective and individual memories. This informs her current work as a composer, sound artist, lecturer and researcher. She has recently edited Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice, an anthology of works from over forty leading contemporary sound artists and composers who use words as their material and inspiration. Cathy Lane co - directs Creative Research in Sound Arts Practice, (CRiSAP) at the University of the Arts, London.


Tomomi Adachi Tomomi presents a solo performance and works for a new speech choir specially formed for this symposium with students from University of the Arts London. Both performances are a mixture of Japanese, quasi-Japanese, multilingual words, conceptual compositions, extended vocal techniques and interactions between gestures and electronics. He will also realise works by the Japanese concrete poet Niikuni Seiichi (1925-77).

  • Same presentation as the one prior to our speech choir workshop. Find my notes here. And you can fid documentation of this performance here.

Tomomi Adachi is a performer/composer, sound poet, instrument builder and installation artist. Known for his versatile style, he has performed improvised music and contemporary works by John Cage, Cornelius Cardew, etc. all over the world including Centre Pompidou, Merkin Hall, Melbourne International Arts Festival and Flanders Festival. As the only Japanese performer of sound poetry, he performed Kurt Schwitters's Ursonate as a Japan première in 1996.


Dani Gal La Battaglia" The context of his work deals with historical research and pop culture by means of sound and spoken word, Dani Gal presents his video work La Battaglia (2007) which features Italian rappers adapting Italian futuristic poetry into Hip Hop.

(My notes are supplemented with online statements that can be found here and here

  • Works with archives - scrambles them - interested in how meaning reasserts itself. The source materials are storage mediums of history, historical documents, which he updates by combining sound, image and video material, thus questioning their unambiguousness in expansive collages. (Recalls the work of DJ Spooky).
  • Concerned with performative and polyphonic processes of narration and the historicity of events. By detaching images from their soundtrack and newly linking them (How to convert a scientific problem into a banal love story, 2005) or by presenting non-synchronized installations composed of slides and sounds (The New Terrorism, 2006), Gal emphasizes the archival character of historical documents which, freed from their infamy, gain meaning only in the dispositif of reordering. The New Terrorism: Plays with the "sound film strip" - popular before PowerPoint - slide lectures with narration - but unhooks image from sound so they're no longer synchronized (advance at variable rates) - recalls Stan Douglas's Journey Into Fear (2001)
  • In some of Gal's works: viewers interact with audio installations via motion detectors = modulating the exhibition as producers and recipients of the historical narrative (Architecture regarding the future of conversation, 2008). - Starts with a found historical record - conversations with world-famous architects of the twentieth century. The work plays with pitch and speed - sensors calibrate the "viewer's" movement so that the sound changes as they approach - exploring proximity and the relations between history as a thing in itself (is this is even possible) and the ways in which history is activated through our engagement - our individual passage through history is made literal.
  • Interested in the gap that opens up in the process between the work created by the artist and the actual historical event, a gap oscillating between collective and subjective memory, between the event itself and the records documenting the event in sound and vision. His Historical Record Archive, a collection of historical speeches, interviews and addresses published on vinyl, serves as an archive; from its noise, indistinctly murmuring voices of the past rise to activate the collective memory in atmospheric language fragments. The events belong to the past, but their vague, non-linear effects are just as present today as the clear noise signals of unassigned radio frequencies.
  • Precise, unpretentious installations, often using anachronistic media - addresses the coding and representation of language and images as well as their specific features and mises-en-scène. Time and again, cinematic, installation-oriented and performative juxtapositions of sound and image recordings illustrate the relativity of collective and subjective perception: a retrospective collision of alleged knowledge weaving a carpet of copious associations.
  • Showed - La Battaglia - a music video of an Italian Hip-hop band “follitrafogli” performing the futurist poem "La Battaglia Di Adrianopoli" of Italian Futurism's founder, Filippo Tommaso Emilio Marinetti from 1914. = Rappers offer their own interpretation of the poem: La Battaglia shows futurism, as an avant-garde modernist art movement and Hip-hop’s as a street sub culture, which became a billion dollar pop industry...both burn with the same passions to violence and speed and use similar representation methods. - Spoken language futurist sound poetry...glorifies danger, violence and speed and points out the urban realty at the beginning of the industrial era. Through the same means and similar aesthetics, Hip-hop culture represent dangerous urban reality as experienced first hand or through the media in a postindustrial era. - Work also links graffiti culture in Milan and Marnetti’s idea of “Parola in libertá”- which is the typographical experiment that the futurists made in order to free their poetry from old conventions and imbue it with rhythm and sound through graphics.- Provocative work that uses familiar techniques of collage and onomatopoeia - freestyled. Interesting because rappers observed Marinetti's poem taught to school kids and Milan is the birth place of Futurism.
  • Post-utopian pragmatism - Hip-hop = borne of ghetto culture (evokes Relational Aesthetic's interest in making the most of the here and now) - Gal explores how practices come together...or how they can be juxtaposed/combined in unlikely ways. (La Battaglia recalls Dan Graham's Rock My Religion, which grounds rock'n roll in Shaker culture.)
  • La Battaglia can be imagined as a sound document in relation to an historical event.

Caroline Bergvall Say: Parsley. Caroline presents some of the ideas that have been at the root of her site-specific sound and language collaboration, Say: Parsley. The piece has a historical starting point in the linguistic shibboleth and examines verbally, sonically and spatially questions of gatekeeping, mishearing, and imposed meaning. It also provides a way to think through some of the issues concerning literature as an aural, non-print art form.

You can find Caroline's website by following this link

  • Background: writer - interested in the page - exploring the relationship between sense and non-sense - interested in humour and how it accretes significance, as well as where meaning is located...code switching.
  • Often works in collaboration (but didn't elaborate what this means in the context of of her)
  • Haiti - very much in the news with the recent earthquake. First self-liberated colonial republic - historical place/space. Language has played a key role in de/reconstruction this place - creolization = creole - tool to generate cultural awareness - connects islands in the caribbean, connects countries and continents. Localist/post-nationalist literatures - that organise cultures. (Moment of self-referentiality in her presentation = "Why do I say all of this?") - dealing with the spectre of European history. Parsley massacre of 1937: refers to the shibboleth used by the henchmen of Dominican President Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina: Soldiers would hold up a sprig of parsley and inquire: "What is this?"...the assumption being: Those who could not pronounce the Spanish word perejil (called pèsi in Haitian Creole, persil in French) were Haitian and were thus exterminated in an attempt to purge Haitians living along the Dominican border. The project engages with this history by exploring mis-hearing, mis-attribution, mis-identification - it's also concerned with language policies operating as a forum of surveillance (reminds me of the French/English language disputes in Quebec) - Bergval observe the complex judgements that accents can provoke (well exemplified in the UK where accents are still perceived as indicative of class. Also concerns around bi-culturalization in the UK: People encouraged to speak English at home to foster a more homogenous culture. Language is a pretext for gatekeeping - How you speak will be used against you.)
  • Say Parsley offers and oral environment that explores sound/text in three languages. It seeks to confront the speaker with their own patterns of speech.
  • A shibboleth is an historical event. - "R" and "L" are the letters most prone to mis-pronounciatio; two-syllable sounds more likely to open up new meanings when degrated
  • Various explorations, including Rolling Hills and Standard English (didn't catch how these relate to Say Parsley)
  • There's a memory ear - it hears things even when they're not there - phantom words- there's anxiety about what you hear and don't hear.
  • Speech: a local sound disturbance.
  • Oral writing - mis-recognition, mis-remembering - layers of sound/image - writing at the level of output -languages need spatiality - phenomenological experience...
  • Influential source: Édouard Glissant's Poetics of Relations - Eco world - writes allegorically...shows an historical awareness...opening to the future....carry what you can...historical sense....locative language.

Caroline Bergvall is a French-Norwegian poet and interdisciplinary writer based in London, who works across media, languages and artforms. Projects alternate between books, audio pieces, performances and language installations. Forthcoming: Alloy: new & selected texts (Nightboat Books, NY, 2010). Recent presentations at: PhonoFemme (Vienna), Henie Onstad Museum (Oslo), Poetry Marathon/Serpentine Gallery, MukHa Museum (Antwerp), MOMA (NY). Currently an AHRC Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts. Online pieces and work samples available at: www.carolinebergvall.com.


http://www.tate.org.uk/pdf/speaking_out_programme.pdf Nye Parry] The Two Of Us and My Name is Sarah Simpson - The Two Of Us appears in the Playing with Words book and was intended for the printed page. It has refused to stay put and has reinvented itself as a live performance. My Name Is Sarah Simpson on the other hand was conceived for the forthcoming Playing with words audio compilation and shall remain there.

  • Performed work - The Two of Us - uses fragments of found text - answer message: Began by playing the message so we could hear the whole thing and then performed his reworking of the message so...he read between fragments of recorded text. Very funny work - and interesting.
  • Set self two rules: (1) not allowed to violate the order of the text; (2) all the lines of text must include a reference to the found text
  • Projecting meanings onto words - chopping words up and inserting them into texts...hearing words that weren't actually there.
  • Working with oral history archives at the BBC - believes it's important to respect the speakers and allow what Parry feels is their meaning to come through - processing the voice is a no-no as it crosses a line...
  • Played the work "My Name is Sarah Simpson" - explores automated phone messages ("Please press 6"; "please listen carefully"; "The number you have dialed has not been recognized") - always women's voices...always uses the imperative...sounds layered, echos...these texts are so familiar they're surreal - the banal becomes beautiful. I'd like to listen this as I'm falling asleep. I wonder what kinds of dreams it might produce.

Nye Parry Art, Arts, Bali, Bedlam, Boomtown, Bunhill, Centre, Chanson, City, Collaboration, Colourscape, Composer, Dance, Decibel, Dice, Electroacoustic, Electronic, Experience, For, Four, France, Fuzzy, Game, Gamelan, Grand, Guildhall, Heineken, Interactive, Installation, Junction, King, Lane, Lansdown, Living, Logic, Ludus, Machine, Maritime, Memory, Middlesex, Museum, Moods, Music, Musical, Musique, National, Of, Organised, Playing, Radio, Row, School, Science, Seasons, Sonic, Sound, Soundscape, Space, Spoken, Steam, Structure, The, Three, Triptych, Two, University, Us, With, Word, Words.


Trevor Wishart Globalalia: The universal dance of human speech as revealed in twenty tales from everywhere, spoken in tongues. In memoriam, Scheherezade, died in suspicious circumstances, Abu Ghraib, 2004. Was commissioned by Folkmar Hein and premiered at Inventionen 2004, Berlin. Initial research made possible through an AHRB Creative Arts Fellowship. The piece was made from over 8000 syllables extracted from speech in 26 languages. The recordings were gathered from the airwaves by the composer and friends, Patrick Kosk and Kouhei and transformed and 'orchestrated' using software instruments created by the artist.

  • Wishart has an alter ego as a free improvisor.
  • He's intrigued with how sound can be morphed.
  • His work is usually political - he decided he might do something "positive" for a change.
  • Thinking about the melodic shape of speech - rhythm of speech - interested in the qualities of language...
  • Speech unites humaness
  • It's true we use language to oppress
  • Cuts of syllables - constructed speech...creates sound objects
  • Interested in the phase as a unit of utterance
  • Fragmenting sounds and meanings

Trevor Wishart was born in 1946 and is based in York, UK. Specialist in sonic metamorphosis both in live vocal performance and in imaginary worlds created in the sound studio using his own software. Awarded a Euphonie d’Or at the Bourges Festival, the Golden Nica for Computer Music at Linz Ars Electronica and, most recently, the Giga-Herz Grand Prize for his life’s work.


David Toop Text and Texture: A brief consideration of text-based notation in the context of improvisation. David Toop discusses the lunchtime performance by Unknown Devices and its use of text scores as shaping forces in improvised music, connecting this practice to his personal experience of collaboration with improviser John Stevens and sound poet Bob Cobbing.

Performance with David Toop and Unknown Devices: The Laptop Orchestra (London College of Communication) on the Turbine Hall Bridge. Versions of text scores by Mieko Shiomi, Bob Cobbing, John Stevens and others will be played.

  • A few thoughts on Unknown Devices (eighteen performers): Group's research concerns: improv - constituency changes as graduates depart but method stays the same – The group has a continuity; it's been going for some years and enjoys a rolling membership.
  • Interest in text scores: What's the point of these exercises? To observe the material implications of translating written instructions into a sound event. Example of a score: Play five sounds in five minutes. Focused instructions create space for developing specific skills: listening…responsive….self-awareness…
  • Text scores: opportunities to address the problem of creating a group sound with musicians from very different abilities and backgrounds….Exmple: Click Piece (first one played by Unknown Devices in today's program): Make short clicks with instrument and play with rhythm…shortest click possible…not thinking about group sound but on your sound…controls the information that everyone is working with. Takes away the anxiety of how the music is working together…results can be beautiful when no one thinking about making music.
  • Tate – hellish acoustics: drone and unpredictable reverb...
  • Notation becomes a way to communicate ideas when you’re not present
  • Toop's work with "Unknown Devices" is grounded in his own history - playing in a in a free rock band with John Stevens: text pieces….
  • Musical notation has been fetishized - means to impose/control people; Fluxus and Cage tried to liberate sound from these tyrannies.
  • Pieces Toop performs works including Mieko Shiomi's Boundary Piece: make the faintest possible sound to a boundary condition - It's not about not nothing; it's about action and boundary…what is and what isn’t…where is and where isn’t? What are our boundaries we impose on ourselves as performers?
  • Toop is critical of 60s whimsy - having lived through this era, he has a low tolerance for this indulgence - not clear what about this whimsy relates to liberation from constraints - many of which no longer apply.
  • He worked with the sound poet Bob Cobbing in the 1970s. Cobbing began poet (he was a conscientious objector) and worked in a hospital, where he had access to crude printing devices. Cobbing became interested in the low quality printing…the sound of poetry...the poem on the page begin a score…His poems became more abstract and less and less connected with words…Example:

Members Only, looks like a graphic score from the 1960s…density of pattern proposes visual relationships and raises questions: Is the white space a silence? How is everyone working together? Each performer is working in a slightly different way…There’s a focus and this focus produces a slightly different focus….

  • The mediumship of the listener - a work by Toop where the group is divided into two and they take turns listening to one another's group sound and then mirroring this sound. This can be meaningfully repeated for a long as it proves interesting.

David Toop is a Visiting Professor at UAL and Senior Research Fellow at London College of Communication. A composer, author and curator, he has written five books, including Ocean of Sound and Haunted Weather, with Sinister Resonance to be published in June 2010. Curated exhibitions include Sonic Boom (Hayward Gallery), and Playing John Cage (Arnolfini Bristol). He has released nine solo albums and recently composed an opera entitled Star-shaped Biscuit.

Unknown Devices: The Laptop Orchestra is an ensemble of improvising musicians based at London College of Communication. Directed by David Toop, the group emerged in 2005 from improvisation sessions for Sound Arts and Design students. Unknown Devices has collaborated with the London Sinfonietta and with Royal College of Music students. Performances include Barbican Cinema’s Stanley Kubrick season, the Inside Out Festival 2009 and Tate Britain’s Late At Tate.


Imogen Stidworthy Barrabackslarrabang: Introduced with a short reflection on language borders, jokes and relational resistance, Imogen presents her short film Barrabackslarrabang (9'20", 2009) In the film Stidworthy interweaves standard and subverted English (Backslang) with tropes of class and race, trade and desire in the hidden backwaters and idealized forms of the voice. Like all languages, Backslang is also a space of identification, spoken proudly. It could be seen as a sign of economic and social conditions and as a form of resistance - a necessity, or a possibility for different social paradigms. In Barrabackslarrabang, the voice criss-crosses social borders to reflect the mirroring of structures and desires through ostensibly opposing spaces of language, legality and culture.

  • Beings by presenting a few images - that function as coordinates for the project - Israeli graffiti - Die Lucy Bush - "Stop the Occupation" - voicing it reveals its content (language can conceal hidden contents)
  • Language borders...wire tapping...listening to material that’s being experienced at the same moment…deaf musician (busker on the street)…
  • Sacha Van Loo – wiretapper for the Antwerp police (blind Sherlock Holmes)…myriad dialects…developed echolocation…can identify the model of a car by the sound of the sound of its engine heard over a cell phone. Van Loo = Russian…afraid of the police…shifted through an ideological border himself as he came to embrace the other side…and in a culture where the visual is a source of knowledge and power, he uses hearing to make the world transparent….
  • Curtis Warren...master criminal...never wrote down anything…all communication done in backslang….different forms in different cities…
  • William Burrough's The Job - interviews - The novel Diva (?)
  • Backslangbang: hard to find people who would do the film because Stidworthy doesn't live in the same word as the people who use backlang and many of them didn't wish to be identified by this underworld characteristic. The first stage of the film entailed setting up the right conditions for dialogue. Backslang - indicates the desire to create something with language...language as a protective space. The film is not about decoding language, so much as about being immersed in it. Stidworthy compared her experience to that of the wiretapper...there are indistinct point that allow you to read a narrative into the film. The film evokes cut up poems, as well as the work of Adrian Henri, who brought poetry into people's lives. - The film is beautifully shot...Juxtaposition: black bartender (?) in beautiful bar...lots of stained glass. Talking about this experience. Shots of the hands and of his mouth.

Imogen Stidworthy, born in 1963 in the UK, examines the different dimensions of language: its communicative potential, its path through the body, its acoustic, gesticulatory, spatial and mental characteristics. She works with the voice as a material to reflect and question how voice and language locate the subject, socially, politically or culturally. Her work has been shown widely, including solo shows at Galerie Akinci, Amsterdam (Jan 2010) and Arnolfini, Bristol See this Sound at Lentos Museum, Linz, Austria (2009-10), Die Lucky Bush, a curatorial project at MuHKA (Museum of Contemporary Art), Antwerp (2008) and her installation I Hate in Documenta 12, Kassel (2007).


Brandon LaBelle The sound at the back of the mouth, almost: Where does my voice reside? What sounds does it make within the space of thought? Following the voice in and outside the body, LaBelle's presentation will aim for the inner voice as the paradoxical coupling of sound and silence. From such a perspective, the voice is imagined as a hinge bringing into contact the above and below of language.

  • Playing with the interrogative (relates to Jennifer Silver's work)...phenomenological engagement - large audience = particular affect - visual impact: white text on black background...single sentence or two (economy of prose)...punctuated by images...Impression: dwelling in the voice...Evokes themes explored in Doug Coupland's Generation A (bees...voice...merging together)...subvocalization..There's no such thing as silent reading; reading as listening.

Brandon LaBelle is an artist and writer. He is the author of Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art (2006) and Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life (2010). His Prototypes for the Mobilization and Broadcast of Fugitive Sound was exhibited at Enrico Fornello gallery, Prato (2007), and Ybakatu Gallery, Curitiba (2009). His ongoing project to build a library of radio memories was presented at Casa Vecina, Mexico City (2008). He collaborates within the collective working group, Surface Tension, and the working team, e+l.


Inua 'phaze' Ellams Inua reads poems from his forth-coming pamphlet Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars, showing how the skills and dynamics of the spoken word, lend itself to creating an urgent, intense, lively experience of poetry.

  • Fantastic metaphors - crop circles on carpets, rewashed waters...banal memories come to life...still warm duvets.
  • Negotiating cliches.
  • Wonderful anecdote about his friend's imaginary friend who in turn had an imaginary friend and the two them would go off and play together and exclude him.

Inua ‘phaze’ Ellams is a poet, playwright and performer based in London. He strove for a career in the visual arts until a dare to write a theme of poems led to his best selling pamphlet, Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales published by Flipped Eye in 2005. His first play The 14th Tale won the Fringe First award at Edinburgh 2009 festival, and is touring the UK including dates at the National Theatre in London later this month.


Oswaldo Macià Vesper is a symphonic composition comprised of joyous female recollections or a positive oral archive. The piece traces its origins to the Greek tragedy and the role of the female chorus as both interpreter and narrator or the drama unfolding onstage. Vesper is created by 95 different testimonies of women, recorded in nine countries in their original languages. The piece uses the orthodox arrangements of choirs calling antiphonally, meaning sung or recited alternately by two groups or individuals responding or answering to each other.

Oswaldo Macia. In my work I seek to question common ideas about knowledge and perception. How the external stimuli we receive from the world is then translated into images and information through our senses. Most of my pieces challenge what we tend to consider common knowledge, which in turn becomes the accepted assumption of our reality. I am particularly concerned with what we think we know of smell. It is by articulating this central preoccupation that I confront audience through particular selections of sounds, smells or visions. Working in the realm of the limits of our senses offers us a possibility to think through another kind of subjectivity and to contemplate a point of view that has perhaps a more complex and multiple relationship with reality. Exhibitions include: Liverpool Biennale (Tate), 51st Venice Biennale, Shanghai Biennale, VIII Havana Biennale de La Habana, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía , Whitechapel Art Gallery, Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris, South London Gallery. Born: Cartagena de Indias Colombia in 1960 Lives: London. UK.


Plenary Discussion

  • Lane thanked all the speakers for being so generous and exposing the inner workings of their works.
  • Referenced her introductory comments and how she believed the concerns of the historical avant-garde were very different from today's sound artists...but perhaps not...perhaps they're also concerned with liberating language.
  • Words propelled by language into space to meet the receivers.
  • Questions to ask the panel: How can artists work with liberate words in new ways?
  • Interest in finding music in things that already exist in the real world - layers of the voice; layers of meaning...
  • Working in this way allows you to explore your own blind spots--both in the past and in the future. Reference to the work of Gordon Matta-Clark - Conical Intersect - Opens up buildings that are about to be demolished...Caroline believes her practice is working in a similar vein.
  • There's a musical dynamic to language...restructuring language throws light on how words can be used/across.
  • Paralinguistic features of the voice - without need for grammatical construction - beyond grammar (Bakhtinian)
  • To say what otherwise cannot be said...
  • There are as many worlds as there are people....
  • Three questions Ellams asks his students: Who are you? What do you want to say? How are you going to say it?
  • LaBell - doesn't think he should speak after presenting a silent piece - experiences secrete pleasure at not learning foreign languages, not understanding...allows him to exist in a different space (channel)
  • Stidworthy - Interested in the operating in the borderlands of language - Not so much about liberating language as it is about liberating the subject.
  • I like something when I don't know what to do with it.
  • The difference between listening and hearing.
  • Metaphors - doubly destitute - connects back to the voice of FR - bastard...no one owns it...
  • Court jester - early ventrioloquist - jokes create an inside and an outside...
  • Silent reading was once considered subversive - monks not allowed to read to themselves; interested in the proposition that sound doesn't exist - pitches are mental constructs....subvocalization
  • Stidworthy - the ghosts of sound Gary Stewart (?) -

Return to Talks * Walks * Walks and Talks

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Dani Gal's La Battaglia source

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Caroline Bergvall in action

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electronic performance & silent disco radio action with Brandon LaBelle

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