Oscillation and disturbance in ‘Op-eRa-art’- year 2

The complex task of writing a multi-media-sonic opera, informed by the sound of words, constitutes my research. The complexity of this operation, that derives from its multifaceted nature- has led me to seek the core of my activity in the “intermedium”. I have found that the vitality that comes out of a collision of two different mediums- word and the sound of the word- engages a creative process, in which the relationship is constantly forming and that this process creates meaning.

By observing the mechanism of that process in my practice and bringing it into a conscious level, it has become a method. The aim of my research, is to make clear that process; by refining and defining it and by writing about my experience, inspired by related history and theories.

After defining my area of research in the first year, in the second year, I wanted to look further into the process, as it takes place in the practice itself- in techniques I have been developing and using. I have followed a method of working and developed new work that emerged from that process. The process was informed by sonic and visual information that comes out of the intermedium – between meaning of words, and their sound.

In the summer I completed tasks that I’ve put forwards in my Time- table, see: CV related activities I have performed and written about “Dirty Electronic workshop” and my collaboration with John Richards at Supernormal Festival (link).

I’ve performed and written about the improvisatory process of working with Kaffe Mathews at Soundwave Festival article by me, appeared in the Wire magazine –Epiphanies, October issue 2011.

I installed and performed Chicks on Speed Cultural Workship Now! At Kunstraum Kreuzberg/ Bethanien, performing four consecutive different live events, including a new version of “Prototype Hits” which was one of the leading projects in the first year, involved new participants, where new prototypes were developed.

Together with Alex Murray Lesley, I won ‘best sound track for Fashion Film’, at Asoff international festival, for “Gala’s invitation” - part of Prototype hits project Prototype Hits.

For Supernormal festival I’ve collaborating with Dr john Richards aka ‘Dirty electronics’, the idea was to build a large size synth (2 meter high) using a wood and cardboard structure inspired by ‘Brian Griffin’ installations, with playful -cardboard/DIY dials and knobs; as elements manipulating the synths sounds.  

I have led a new media workshop at L’estruch Barcelona, advancing processes in live performance- by interaction with digital and electronic sensors.

Parallel to those events, I continue improvising at the Workshop and developed further my live opera performance material and performed several parts of the opera. (a process I referred to as TohoVaVuho in the time table).

An event for ‘Mercy’ Project, commissioned by Nathan Jones, took place in September 2011, the performance was themed around Jacques Derrida’s idea of Hauntology. see interview by Mark greenwood

The idea of words, as objects, becoming sound material separated from their literary meaning, emerged towards the end of last year and became more and more central to my study. I realize that at the center of my research is the idea of words transforming into sound, forms meanings.

Text as sound:

Since I started working with sound textures and Noise, I realise more then ever that utterance of text through vocal- using voice, presents a complex dynamics: A double status; the performer and the recorded/effected voice, verbal text meeting sound-object, presents a complexity that comes out of the relationship between word, sound and origin of utterance - the subject.

As Richard Kostelanetz defines it in his “text-sound-art a survey”, as the intemedium “located between language arts and musical arts” while Josef Sprinzak argues that “text-sound art works are characterized by a back and forth movement between speech as “voice”, that is, as a medium of expression and communication, and speech as “sound”, that is, as an independent object which is “not a medium”, explains, if I understand correctly, that ‘speech as sound’ is not a medium, but rather, intermedium, because text and sound are two separate mediums that work in relation to one another and this interaction is what creates meaning in performance.

The human vocal can not be separated from the instrument that produces its sounds- the subject. An utterance of words is essentially ‘making sounds’, the nature of the complexity that arises from this inevitable combination of word, sound and subject, creates a system whereby; utterance translated as meaning, this concept phonates as the most basic everyday event, we come across hearing text pronounced by different subjects; an official, a child, lover, mother, and so on, each has a specific voice, the meaning is created from the combination of the human talking, the sound of the human talking- hi pitch, low pitch, deep pronunciation… and the word itself, that combination produces meaning.

A word pronounced is not the same as a word read, because when read- one, can attach their own sound and origin, when heard, it becomes an event. The horror film cliché of a child speaking with a deep adult voice; is a disturbance caused by separating the sound image from its origin: sound origin- belongs to an adult, while the origin- the subject is a child. Same word can alter its meaning depending on its delivery whereby, the sound of a word creates meaning, therefore utterance is a complex event.

'Text for performance' or 'Words for opera', became the core of my practice, the sound of words form the basis of my activity and guide the writing of an opera - sounds, music, visuals and actions, follow the functionality of the physical text – its utterance.

I write these texts intuitively, using collage writing - a technic often related to writing of lyrics and some forms of poetry that is sound- led; rhythm (meter) or melody. I edit the text and learn it by heart, make it audible and work until, for me, the meaning of the words; become secondary to their sound, I then, perform the text.

I realized that I needed to develop work that corresponded with the idea of sound of words and even try and create music from the movement between words and their physical sound.

New work: Politix Of Sound- won a commission for Spor festival in Denmark 2012. Politix Of Sound is a six- part video installation that could be screened as, installation, or a stand- alone projection.

Politix of Sound has been created as an investigation of word-sound relationship producing image.

Excerpt from my proposal:

For SPOR 2012 in Aarhus I would realise ‘Politix of sound’ as a video-sound work, I will work predominantly with voice through electronic manipulation. By, duplicate my image I will perform as a choirs transforming ‘Politics of Sound’ text into a vocal composition that will become part of a video Opera.

Politix of sound will become part of a ‘Noise opera’, the project has several stages and objectives, throughout the process, I will realize a volume of work that would be predominantly sound/music based work- the Opera and will include a video installation and live performance.

Politics of sound, is a text I’ve written as a response to Jacques Attali’s – “NOISE: The Political Economy of music” (1977) using ‘manifesto sound’.

The book altered my view on music, I never thought of music as a political power before. Attali’s analysis of society – “by its sounds” (p3), his view that: “Music is a way of perceiving the world” and his economic analysis of noise as “the source of purpose and power” (p6), is composed almost as a manifesto. “More than colours and forms, it is sounds and their arrangements that fashion societies. With music is born power and its opposite: subversion” (Attali, p6),

The technique used to create Politix Of Sound, was a revelation, in terms of how the theoretical idea of ‘word- sound relationship creat image’ here is a Link to an interview for Spor Festival.

Politix of sound and its follow-up works: “Cut your Hair”, and ‘120’ are processing the theoretical idea of ‘Word-sound- producing Image'.

A second strand of creative strategy, has risen from my investigation; developing through working with a fellow improviser- John Wollaston, John is a Noise- artist, who works with electronic circuit boards, feedback loops and oscillation techniques.

The ‘song writing’ process, bridges between Lyrics, rhythm, noise and melody, where words become sound and are affected and effected by disturbance and oscillation. we have performed at Cafe Oto, as part of Electronic voice Phenomenon, on May31st (link to our performance)

I see all my activities as being part of the opera.

related study:

The word and its sound, is at the core of the all encompassing Richard Wagner’s ‘Gesamtkunstwerk', where lies the principal of all the arts combined, to create a powerful expression. In his book: "Aspects of Wagner", Bryan Magee, talks about the problematic question of translation Wagner’s operas, highlighting the significance of the tone and musicality of the original text, a difficulty often found in poetry translation.

In Wagner’s libretto, words and sentences, can not be separated from the opera’s overall musical effect- because of modulation of word, tone and notes, “ In Wagner there are times when it would be as true to say that the notes are vehicles for the words as the other way about.” (p66)

A more contemporary statement, related to the sound of words, I found in the work of Robert Ashley, in ‘notes from the stage’: “Every aspect of the music in opera must come from the language of the culture. So, as I told John Rockwell the other day, you can see that in the evolution of Italian opera because of the importance of pure vowels in Italian—the evolution toward an embellishment of these vowels. With Monteverdi, it’s just one syllable per vowel, and by the time you get to Puccini, people are just going all over the place with the o or the a or the e or whatever. So, what I told John was that English doesn’t work that way because there are very few pure vowels in English.” (notes from the stage: Interview with Robert Ashley New York, April 23, 2003)

The study of the intermdium Text-Sound Art: A Survey, by Richard Kostelanetz, is an accurate depiction of the phenomenon, text –sound –art is very close to what ‘Words for opera’ depicts- although my technique is coming out of Text- sound- Art, and going further to develop a visual approach as well as sonic.

In his book-“The origin of consciousness in the break –down of the bicameral mind”, Julian Jaynes, analyses the origin and meaning of consciousness. The right side of the brain’s mechanical function and its creative production (dew to being unconscious), especially in relation to the sound of the words (authoritative or poetic), and the development of consciousness as an ‘editor’ of meaning, led me to realize that this idea very relevant to performance and acting methods.

Constantin Stanislavski, states that “An actor must have a point of attention and this point of attention must not be in the auditorium.” He goes further to ask of the actor, to give objects of attention on stage “an imaginary life”- to distance the actor’s consciousness by shifting his consciousness, to somewhere distant from the live situation, in order to neutralize it.

In employing the ‘Alienation effect’ Berthold Brecht is "stripping the event of its self-evident, familiar, obvious quality and creating a sense of astonishment and curiosity about them" (Brecht, quoted by Brooker (1994, 191).

Many dancers and actors will recall, seeing themselves from ‘the outside’ or use techniques of distancing from actions by concentrating on the sound they are producing, rhythm and their physicality.

In “Towards a Poor Theatre” Jerzy Grotowsky presents a technique that defuses consciousness, he talks about contradicting “voice and word, will and thought, will and action” in Vsevolod Meyerhold biomechanics training, the focus is on learning gestures and movements as a way of expressing emotion physically, the focus is very much like an athletes- on physical movement and rhythm.

Looking into acting methods, I became aware that techniques that I’ve employed in my research tends to follow a method, I decided to develop and write my own performance method, as part of the written component of my PHD.