Un/voiced

Tuning Speculation 7: NON, Array Space, Toronto (15-17 November 2019)

This intervention will investigate interactions between (strident-though-inaudible) inner voices and (unhearing-though-straining) internal ears. It intends to explicate the soundless interjections of textual unvoices in artists’ moving image works of the past five years.

The analysis will centre on Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa’s 2015 film, Promised Lands: in which performances of ventriloquism, illegibility and indecipherability, inter- and sub-titling, litanies of negation, linguistic opacity, vocal expressivity and anti-colonial fictioning are marshalled to trouble a history of displacements and dislocations between the European and African continents. In Promised Lands, over twenty minutes and seven chapters, voice and textual unvoice move in and out of synchronisation. As what is audible and what is legible variously peel apart, generate friction, and fall into mutual supplementarity, Promised Lands unsettles expectations about the testimonial capacities of the ‘living voice’, and, too, the dynamic potentiality of the word-as-read.

Much will be made of pre-emptive muting. Punctuation may prove surprisingly significant within/ to a new grammar of artists’ film-making. Along the way, recourse will be had to recent videos by Laure Prouvost, Patrick Staff and Christopher Kulendran Thomas and, too, to the relation between TED-talks and cheap ads. This presentation heralds the incipience of a new form of non-audible address to the reader-viewer-listener’s internal non-hearing system.

Voiceover Takeover

In Pursuit of Sound: A Two-Day Symposium, University of Cambridge (1st-2nd October 2019)

The presence of sound in art is no longer a surprise. Over the past decade, many have theorised the operation, handling and history of gallery sound. In the same period, voice studies has evolved into a busy zone of interdisciplinary enquiry. But while variants of the voiceover are proliferating in contemporary video and installation art, the significance of this phenomenon—voiceover in the expanded field—has not yet registered.

Since at least the 1960s, language has figured among art’s primary media. Where once we were expected to read our way through an exhibition, now we are called upon (or made) to listen. In this paper, I will examine the suddenly-ubiquitous voiced transmission of unreadable texts in 21st century art: attempting to account for art’s current fascination with voicing writing. Tracking the migration of art-texts from vitrine into vocality, I will consider how and why museums and galleries have accommodated (or driven) this new vocal orientation. Finally, by surveying trends in vocal performance and production, I will point up some of the curatorial hazards that can arise when art’s language experiments are transposed into sonic form.

Keynote: ‘The words keep tumbling out because I want to hear them’: self-present, self-pleasuring modernist art writing

Modernist Art Writing/ Writing Modernist Art, University of Nottingham (24th-26th June 2019)

Liquid citizenship, liquid voice and sensorial sovereignty

Truth, Fiction, Illusion: Worlds and Experience, Theory Culture & Society Literature & Philosophy Conference, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt (29th May-2nd June 2019).