Our voices help define us: our collective humanity and individual selfhood. Possessing a voice is a symbol of empowerment. Only the privilege can speak in ways which are heard and given credence. Victims are too often silenced: their lack of voice signifying their disempowerment. Voices are fallible, physical things which can fail us by quavering, scratching, or losing pitch when we most need their strength. Contained inside our bodies and concealed from view, two membranes are stretched across the larynx modulating airflow and vibrating to produce sound. This work explores the symbolic and physical power of the human voice by revealing its internal workings, from inside the body of a vocalist.
This performance and installation work externalises the hidden, fleshy and deeply personal workings of the voice from inside a singer’s body. Participants sit across from an opera singer. She wears a laryngoscope, a thin viewing tube which passed through her nose providing real-time video of her vocal chords projected onto the walls of the chamber. She sings and her voice reverberates in the space. Audio is also captured by the laryngoscope from inside the singer’s body and contact mics are placed on her skin capturing the sounds of lungs inhaling and exhaling, and other internal organs gurgling with their everyday functions. Participants can blend these internal audio signals and amplify them into the chamber using a controller. By externalising these intimate, internal mechanisms in an exaggerated and overwhelming sonic and visual experience, participants are asked to confront the contradictions of our voices: who gets to wield them and what that means for our humanity.
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