O1 – Voice (The Artist’s Talk)

Artist Talks 9 March 2011, 6.00-8.00pm

What is it to ‘demonstrate’ (to point out, to show a wonder or monstrosity) or ‘present’ (stage, expose, bring forth)? What is the difference between stating and telling? How does Voice work? What is embodied in speech and sound? Where is personality or personal presence accumulated in a talk?  Rhetoric. Theatre. The Audience as Chorus.





What is there to say? – Ann Smock

“This book is named after a song. A voice got me started on it — a woman’s
voice in Blanchot’s L’Attente l’oubli. It speaks without interruption, say-
ing every so often, “Make it so that I can speak.” “Faites en sorte que je
puisse parler.” The woman can’t speak, it seems, but this doesn’t appear
to stop her. She speaks, but it doesn’t follow from this that she can. The
ability to speak doesn’t seem to have any bearing on speech when she
speaks. Gradually, I’ve come to think that from her speaking it doesn’t
even follow that she does speak, though certainly it doesn’t follow that
she doesn’t. She could speak or not; it wouldn’t make much difference —
she wouldn’t speak any more or any less, any better or any worse. Cer-
tainly, she wants to speak, wants to be able to. Whenever such a voice
sounds, it brings with it this want. Nevertheless, as far as this peculiar
kind of speech is concerned, whether one speaks or not is scarcely rele-
vant: either one does or one doesn’t; it’s a sort of red herring.

On a more dramatic note, however, there is an injunction to speak in
many books by Blanchot which has preoccupied me a great deal, as it has
most of Blanchot’s readers. It is an injunction to speak in response to
another human being, in a language that is foreign to power, to ability, to
possibility. “Il faut parler, sans pouvoir.” You must speak, without being
able to — but also without even the strength of this must to go on, if I am
right in suspecting that, as far as the odd kind of speech which does
without the ability to speak is concerned, to speak or not is a matter of
indifference. You must, but this must will not sustain or justify you.

Blanchot states more than once in L’Entretien infini that when another
human approaches you — when the measureless remoteness of the un-
known, the unreachableness of the Other, comes up close to you — you
face one bleak choice, either speak or kill: do what you cannot do, do it
without any ability to do it, or else go right to the extreme farthest limit
of what you can do.”

You can read the whole book here: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=10978345


Poetics – Aristotle

“When constructing plots and working them out complete with their linguistic expression, one should so far as possible visualize what is happening. By envisaging things very vividly in this way, as if one were actually present at th events themselves, one can find out what is appropriate, and inconsistencies are least likely to be overlooked. …

One should also, as far as possible, work plots out using gestures. Given the same natural talent, those who are actually experiencing the emotions are the most convincing; someone who is distressed or angry acts out distress and irritation most authentically. (This is why the art of poetry belongs to people who are naturally gifted or mad; of these, the former are adaptable, and the latter are not in their right mind.)”


Confronting Silence – Toru Takemitsu

“For several years I have been fascinated by traditional Japanese instruments such as the biwa and shakuhachi. After hearing some superb performances and meeting distinguished performers I wrote several pieces for those instruments … The sounds of such instruments are produced spontaneously in performance. They seem to resonate through the performer, then merge with nature to manifest themselves more as presence than as existence. In the process of their creation, theoretical thinking is destroyed. A single strum of the strings or even one pluck is too complex, too complete in itself to admit any theory. Between this complex sound – so strong that it can stand alone – and that point of intense silence preceding it, calledma there is a metaphysical continuity that defies analysis.  Likeitcho(1)  in Noh music, this ma and sound do not exist as a technically definable relationship. It is here that sound and silence confront each other, balancing each other in a relationship beyond any objective measurement. … In short, this ma, this powerful silence, is that which gives life to the sound and removes it from its position of primacy.”



Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech to the Religion and Labor Foundation, 1957

Famous Orators :: Dr. Martin Luther King's speech to the Religion and Labor Foundation, 1957
“Skin may differ, but affection dwells in black and white the same”



Aural Contract Audio Archive

Listen to No.1 ‘Voice Coach for Lawyers ‘http://www.113dalstonlane.com/auralcontract/The_Voice_In_Law.html

Listen to No.2 ‘Vocal Mugshot’.  http://www.113dalstonlane.com/auralcontract/Forensic_Listening.html

Listen to No.12 ‘Shouting Valley: The porosity of Sonic Borders’.  http://www.113dalstonlane.com/auralcontract/The_Voice_In_Law.html


There is a pv of the aural contract audio archive at The Showroom this Thursday:

You are invited to a Punctuation Programme: ‘The Aural Contract Audio Archive Evening IV’ by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, curated by Robert Leckie. Thursday 10th March 2011, 7 – 9pm

This event is an expanded performance/presentation of the ongoing Aural Contract project initially commissioned in 2010 by the Showroom, London. The project is constituted by a series of events, publications, performances, exhibitions, workshops and audiovisual material that examine a contemporary politics of listening through a focus on the role of the voice in law.

Limoncello, 15a Cremer Street, London E2 8HD




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s