Research output: Other contribution


For this short programme I have selected a series of works which reconfigure the relationship between text and image through the form of the voice. This is achieved by a disjointed marriage of the spoken and written word, a new narrative formed through a sequential collage of film titles woven together by voiceover, or a cinematic re-enactment of a voice recording. In each, there is a gap between the voice and what appears on screen, an unspoken awareness of a friction between these two formal elements. In Secondary Currents, 1982-90, Peter Rose parodies the complexity of the discussion surrounding the relationship between text and film, creating ‘a kind of comic opera’. Rose describes the work as ‘a dark metaphor for the order and entropy of language’ [1]; an absurd pairing of voice and text. The incoherent narrative descends into rhythmic visual and aural abstraction, demonstrating the futility of attempts to verbalise the very qualities of the image/text relationship which inherently remain a dark matter of sorts. The voice, in its attempt to articulate some elusive meaning, falls victim to its own twists of the tongue. The appropriated film titles in Torsten Lauschmann’s Skipping over damaged areas, 2010, are strung together to form a new narrative, unified by an archetypal male voiceover. As with Rose’s Secondary Currents, the viewer is aware of an element of incongruence between what appears on screen and what the voice is narrating; in this case it is an awareness of the disparity between the source material—titles sourced from an array of Hollywood films and the artist’s transformation of these texts as fragments within a cinematic collage. This reconfiguration of the original sources opens up the text to new readings and repurposes main titles into constituent parts within a new imagined, cinematic narrative. The viewer is caught between recognising the titles in the context of the source material and reading them in the context of the spoken narrative. Allan Hughes similarly uses the voice as an overarching structure in his work, Point of Audition, 2009. Originally a two channel, synchronised video installation, it is included here as a single channel preview. The video shows a tape spool revolving in time with an actor lip-syncing to a recording of Fonda’s Vietnam radio broadcasts in a room recalling the style of the therapy scenes in Alan J Pakula's 1971 film Klute. The actor playing Fonda in the restaged scene is wearing a military style jacket; a black and white picture of Fonda in Vietnam can be seen on the wall; a shelf of books in the background includes Michel Chion’s Film: A Sound Art, 2009, and Philip Rosen's Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology: A Film Reader, 1986. The work places the politically charged recordings within an aesthetic construct that offers intertextual reference points, renegotiating the role of the (disembodied) voice in both the audio recording and the film through re-enactment. As described in Temple Bar Gallery and Studios’ press release for the group exhibition Lights, Camera, Action!, ‘the work examines the function and effect of remediation on the voice and explores the consequences of establishing the voice as an object that is extra-linguistic to speech. The material aspect of the voice shifts between historical subjects, the work and the spectator.’ [2] In each of these works, the artists shift textual elements into new contexts, forcing the viewer to recognise a schism between text as a sensual, aesthetic object and text as a linguistic construct. Spoken and written texts are employed as fluid, changeable material, with any sense of fixed (narrative) meaning upheaved through a reconfiguration of the relationship between voice, text and screen. In some cases, the meaning of the text simply shifts and is reframed; in the most liberating cases, it just stops making any sense at all. Suzanne van der Lingen
Original languageEnglish
Place of Publication
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2014


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