Listen

Listen is a 3-minute audiovisual piece filmed in a single shot, presenting a close-up of a speaking mouth, which occupies most of the screen-space.

In Listen, the speaker promises to reveal intimate secrets – and this intimacy is accentuated by the closeness of the mouth and by the un-effected voice recording, and simultaneously contrasted by the anonymity of the speaker’s face, which lies beyond reach.

As the speaker begins her revelations, a disruptive and constant, extraneous sound comes in to obliterate her message, rendering it unintelligible by making her voice barely audible, while the visuals remain unaltered.
At irregular intervals the obstructive sound relents and fragments of the spoken sentences are brought to the fore and become audible, while simultaneously the image blurs.
Towards the end of the piece, both visuals and speech are disrupted by blurring and by the extraneous sound respectively, and the mouth and the speech’s message become clearly defined again only at the very end, where it becomes apparent that the revelations have ended, and where the speaker thanks us for listening.

As Michel Chion points out in Audio-Vision (1994:5-6), human beings (and the filmic medium) are “vococentric” and “verbocentric”, so when listening to a sound film, our ears tend to seek and notice voice first, and specifically messages conveyed by any words being uttered.

In Listen, disruption is introduced to put the message just out of reach. Because the voice can be faintly heard in the barrage of extraneous sound, the audience’s vococentric/verbocentric ears naturally seek it and strain, but fail to pick out the all-important message being conveyed by the obstructed words.
Speech is visible in the speaking mouth’s movements, but barely audible, and is unintelligible, so our eyes then try to compensate, to fill in by lip-reading.

When fragments of spoken sentences are occasionally brought to the fore to titillate our ears and maintain our interest in the unreachable conversation, the image blurs, forcing the audience to readjust from focusing on the lips’ movements to purely listening. The repetition of this coupling of blurred visuals with decipherable voice is then itself disrupted when both the image of the mouth and its speaking are simultaneously interfered with, forcing the audience to readjust and strain once more, before the film ends.

This continuous disruption of audibility and visibility forces constant readjustment in the audience, and this makes them take notice and reflect on the relationship between sound and visuals and their degree of interdependency on a more conscious level by encouraging them to switch between leaning on one and then the other in an attempt to get to the message, thus taking neither for granted.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
CHION, M. (1990/1994) Audio-Vision. New York: Columbia University Press

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Screamer

Here’s a little experiment I made. It’s called Screamer.

I would like to keep working on it if I find the time, but for now this is my piece! It’s part of a series of experiments I made exploring themes of perfection/perfecting, failure, imperfection, and in this case muting. More to be posted. Also, when I feel a little less tired I might say a bit more about this piece and its sister pieces.

Chirp

I’m still attempting to catch up with my back-log of posts, and somehow this had escaped me. When I was in Athens (to complete marathon No. 2!) last November I made a little detour to add to my Tapescapes blog. Here it is. And here are all the other posts should you want to check the rest of my blog out!

Between

A couple of months ago my Sound Art master class took part in a sort of “exchange” workshop with Poetic Practice master students. For the day of the workshop, we were each asked to bring in a “page-based piece of writing” narrating a journey between two points, which we might then use as a starting point for our work on the day. Here’s what I produced (click on picture for larger version):

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I’m becoming rather interested in using text and handwriting in my current work, as you’ll see in my upcoming posts, as I work through my back-log of updates. This was not a planned direction that I took but rather I have suddenly found myself working in this way with several pieces, as different projects that started out as non-text-based seem to have naturally progressed in that direction.

Pauline Oliveros at Tate Modern

I will be performing as part of a 14-piece ensemble at Tate Modern on the 3rd of May. The performance is part of the 3-day Symposium “Her Noise – Feminisms and the Sonic” which is organised by Electra and Crisap with Tate. We will perform Pauline Oliveros’ 1970 piece ” To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of Their Desperation” as part of a day dedicated to Oliveros, at which the composer will also be performing solo and giving a talk

More info in the flyer below and here.

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And… breathe.

I have not had a chance to update this blog for a while – so maybe I should make good use of the moment’s respite I am afforded right now and quickly write down all of the things I have been wanting to post here for a while. I have been very busy since the start of my MA in January. The course is amazing, as I expected, but hectic. It’s full-time, but spans 12 continuous calendar months rather than being stretched out over 2 years as many full-time MAs are. Meanwhile I am working part-time and had been training for my third marathon until recently – sadly I had to give up my training in order to focus on my studies, as it was all getting a bit too much for me to handle. I am happy to say, though, that  I have survived the 1st phase of the MA and am now entering the 2nd!  Exciting and stressful things are ahead, no doubt!

So many things have taken place in the past few months, and I have wanted to post my new work and experiments on here as they happened, but having been unable to, I am now struggling with recollecting and retrospectively writing about everything, so please bear with me.

But no more excuses… I will get started. Watch this space.

Mind the rubble

 

As you may have noticed, this website & blog are undergoing a bit of a revamp. Please bear with me as I update all contents. Apologies for any missing links & content.

Check back soon for the updated version. Meanwhile, feel free to navigate this version… but mind the rubble!