Revoicing & Gendered Vocalization
from talk on Evaporated Music Originally presented at University of Sydney, 2004
Artist talk in the exhibition VIDEO LOGIC, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2008
Keynote for ELECTRIFIED VOICES conference, Konstanz University, Germany, 2011
the REMIX stream in the 16th Biennal Film & Histroy Conference, Victoria University, Melbourne, 2012
Artist talk, London College of Communication, London, 2012
Revoicing pertains to a rampant mode of replacing the voice with another voice in order to postulate not a transition but an erasure of originating identity (see Funny Accents: The Sound of Racism). Yet revoicing is almost an inevitable outcome in dealing with any recorded form of the voice. Pop post-production, anime US-dubbing, You-tube gag videos, big budget Hollywood CGI animation all engage modes of revoicing.
"When music evaporates from the audio-visual flow of films and music video-clips, the sonic terrorizes all image residue. Invisible noises filter through the unmodulated plane of silence which frames the image track." (from original 1996 notes) Music in films is mostly employed to smother this alienating silence. Music video-clips similarly do not allow sound, atmosphere or noise to disrupt the hermetic world of the song. EVAPORATED MUSIC 1 aggressively removes music from the soundtrack and imports an excess of sound and noise into the visual track.
Gender is ingrained in the voice like the absence or presence of Adam’s Apple. This is audible in social interaction, cinema acting, and recorded vocal music. Vocal conventions, types and tropes are appended to gender in order to signify its aural aura. This aura arisse from audiovision (the voice’s combine with the image of a face) and audio alone (singing voices heard without seeing the face).
Cinema’s split in vocalised gender is between macho grunting hulks (see Read My Lips: Notes on Film Dialogue) and screaming howling maidens (see I Scream In Silence: Cinema, Sex & The Sound of Women Dying).
Music’s split in vocalised gender runs a similar course, but predominantly song is exploited as the site for celebrating beauty, truth, harmony and nature. Male and female singing maintain a polite gender difference via their consensual agreement of what constitutes the beautiful voice. A counter history of noise, performance, experimentation runs along side this, based on exploring ways to avoid the humanism entailed in the pleasure of the beautiful voice (see Vocalising The Post-Human).
Cinematic vocal projection is dedicated toward voicing a gendered performance in line with the required characterization to be made visible through film. Conversely, music videos are dedicated to visualising vocal grain which already clearly states its gender type.
EVAPORATED MUSIC 1 creates vocal types not based on the original vocal performances of the singers, but on the visual stage created for the voice in the video clip.
Elton John – animated corpse – dried withered corporeal utterance
Phil Collins – mirrored ghost – phased modulated communiqué
Billy Joel – electric automaton – vocoded simulation of statement
Celine Dion – crone witch – raspy cat-coughing screeching
Mariah Carey – water nymph – highly feminised robotic breath
Gloria Estefan – wild cougar – fuzzed distorted animalistic scream
All EVAPORATED MUSIC 1 vocals are based on labial approximations of the original lyrics. All feature a central track mixed in the centre speaker, some with additional choral backing or pseudo-vocal effects in other speakers.