Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Sound Poem in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Before you read my post, read this "Stuck Between Stations" post first.




Did you read it yet? Good. Now remove Marie's emotion and look at the mechanical.

Sarah LaBrie

I chose to focus my curatorial project on "ego-casting" and voyeurism. Myspace, Flickr, theFacebook and Blogger allow ordinary people to broadcast the most mundane details of their everday lives. The fact that people flock to such websites indicates the voyeuristic tendencies in all of us. These five pieces explore the concept of voyeurism. Some artists used blogs and photo sharing websites to create new media art. Others took advantage of these tools to explore the concept of self-identity. Each piece offers us a chance to examine the forces behind our strong desire to see into another persons life....

Hugo Ball inaugurated the Cabaret Voltaire with a recitation of his sound poem Karawane. For my project, I used the voices that came with my Mac Powerbook to record the same poem. With this project, I wanted to play with the relationship between man and machine. Ball's poetry was meant to be heard, rather than read. Thus, along with the word choice and structure that define a conventional poem, any interpretation of Karawane has to take into account the way it sounds, whose reading it and how. I came up with this idea when I found a link to Marie Osmond, of all people, reading Karawane aloud. A pop culture icon beloved by middle American housewives, Osmond seemed to me about as far away as one could get from the Dadaist movement and from Ball himself. My project goes even further though, recreating the poem and its intentions entirely by taking away the feeling and passion that was used to construct it and instead reading it according only to a series of pre-coded electronic commands.

I also thought it was interesting that the voices came with names. Some of them traditional: Kathy, Vicki, Victoria, Ralph, Albert. Others more descriptive: Hysterical, Cello, Bad News, Bahh. The photo icons that I used for the men and women's voices reflect the creepiness I felt when I found these in my sound preferences folder. The women and two of the men are taken from the website, which produces extraordinarily life-like customized sex dolls that sell for nearly $7,000 a piece.

And no, I didn't visit; I'm at work at the moment. But I did go to Sarah's blog, which currently only has one post.


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