Voicing the Political: Attuning to Voice

Laure Prouvost, Swallow, 2013. Film still. Courtesy the artist
Laure Prouvost, Swallow, 2013. Film still. Courtesy the artist
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This session places Lis Rhodes’ film Riff (2004, 18’) in dialogue with Laure Prouvost’s Swallow (2013, 12’) followed by a brief discussion of the interaction between breath, the body and phrasing in both films. Eleni Ikon will discuss how the female-sounding voice continuously invokes new philosophical, political and aesthetic challenges. We will listen to the mythical voices of the Sirens and the oral histories of funeral lamentation, along with the vocal experiments of contemporary composers and performers, and the ever-presence of automated voices across the public and private realms. A collective exercise will explore our attentiveness to the materiality of the speaking voice.

This season’s study sessions address vocality as a phenomenon at the confluence of embodiment and technicity, the individual and the collective, interior and exterior, sound and sense. Each session will comprise screenings, collective readings, and listening experiments. By discussing language-based artistic and literary practices, we will work together to interrogate the politics of how voice is used, represented, imagined and heard.

Voicing the Political has been programmed as part of Voices in the Gallery, an AHRC-funded research project, led by Sarah Hayden at the University of Southampton in conjunction with John Hansard Gallery and Nottingham Contemporary. The event is part of a series of discussions about the materiality of text and of the speaking voice in contemporary moving image.

Eleni Ikon is Senior Tutor (Research) in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art in London. Her research is situated at the intersection between digital media, critical theory and sound art practice. Her writings and practice deal with both the known and unknown impact of new technologies on culture, aesthetics and politics, investigated through the staging of transdisciplinary encounters. She is author of The Rhythmic Event, Art, Media, and the Sonic (MIT Press, 2014), member of the art collective AUDINT, and editor of the Media Philosophy series (Rowman & Littlefield International).

Sarah Hayden is Associate Professor at the University of Southampton, where she directs the Centre for Modern and Contemporary Writing and leads the AHRC ‘Voices in the Gallery’ project, (2019-2021). 'Voices in the Gallery' investigates the voiceover as a phenomenon that exists simultaneously as art-form, literary genre and sonic intervention in the contemporary gallery space. She is the author of the books, Curious Disciplines: Mina Loy and Avant-Garde Artisthood and Peter Roehr–Field Pulsations (jointly authored with Paul Hegarty), as well as various articles, chapters, poems and chapbooks.

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