In short, the task of actualising situation-sensivite artistic research in a psychiatric hospital environment, is not easy. I have argued here that Vocal Nest attuned an uneasy atmosphere to the carefully regulated psychiatric hospital space, where the self-contained existence of the vocalisers and listeners became temporarily blurred on a sensate level. I have also argued that such non-verbal relations can add significantly to the possibility of expressing and actualizing oneself comprehensively in a situation of suffering, even if one did not participate by actually vocalising. The embodied abilities of vocalising and listening are processes of making differences audible, palpable, and sensible.
The attunement of such human atmospheres mattered, in a radical sense, precisely because they comprised a non-filtered platform for contact and embodied encountering at a most basic level of relation, into which people (according to sensate knowledge and other feedback from the process) were drawn in diverse manners. I propose that, at these entangled events of contact, the ideas, and perhaps also experiences, of sickness and health existed along a continuum and in degrees, rather than as fixed or determining. The composition contributed, by sensate means, to one of the main aims of contemporary psychiatry — that of reducing the stigmatisation of those who have received treatment in psychiatric hospitals and might experience a loss of human dignity, despite good care.
However, I also argued that this process of blurring in the entangled resonance spheres also created disturbances — between the established and previously unknown ways of perceiving and expressing the subject and object within this material-discursive environment. The meaning of this compositional process as research was thus neither symbolic nor semiotic, nor otherwise fixed, but situation- and discourse-sensitive and fluid.
These varied agencies, and the transversal paths between the ethical and aesthetical dimensions, have together enabled the singular development of my research. The unique methodology of vocal-affective attunement, and the composing process of my research as sensate knowledge production, evolved in close intra-action with the understanding and ethical statutes of psychiatric research. Getting to know a research tradition that was previously unknown to myself (and beyond the reach of my professional abilities) both enabled and forced me to develop an ethico-aesthetically oriented research practice. A vital part of this process was acknowledging that such multi-professional collaboration demands from myself, as an artist-researcher (to cite Lehikoinen): ‘a repositioning outside the traditional boundaries of art as autonomous field’.1 On the other hand, it also demanded trust, collaborational willingness, openness, and support from the psychiatric sector. The work embarked from Hannula et al.’s idea of the ‘democracy of experiences’, according to which ‘different types of experience are equipotential when approaching a given phenomenon’.2 In other words, no area of knowledge is beyond the criticism of another, which might provide fertile ground for a new kind of knowledge production, enriching existing epistemic views. My initial motivation, to widen the expressive register of a psychiatric hospital environment, thus formed the basis for this (ongoing) mutually transformative relationship between vocal sound art, contemporary music, psychiatry, and the intertwinement of art and well-being.
In the future, it would be inspiring to further explore the artistic possibilities between the affective scale dimensions of non-verbal and verbal communication and expression in dialogue with the psychiatric care system — a process I have worked with in the second ongoing phase of my research. Through such transdisciplinary collaboration, a thorough rethinking of the entanglement between ethical challenges and aesthetical materialisations needs to be carefully worked through. I will explore this complicated process in more detail in my dissertation.
This exposition has proposed a new way to consider the non-therapeutic potentiality of vocal art to catalyse routes for the creation of subjectivity without being harnessed by the utilitarian interests of the health benefits of art. Within this process, the question of arts own evidential power — that is, the ways in which it might convince besides the other valuable modes of knowledge production — has become crucial. The vocal sounds were produced. A sensate, atmospheric composition emerged from actualising artistic research work from within this vocal matter. As a sensate and situational experience, acquired through the listeners’ and vocalisers’ sensibilities, it testified that the connection between people can be produced by vocal work when verbal, rational communication breaks down. The overall compositional process opened a sensate understanding of the world in parallel with established psychiatric care practice. The rudimentary expressive scale of the resonant atmospheres produced a more holistic knowledge of how we are related, revealing and reporting something of the faculty of shared human sensibility. Within this medium, it produced situation-sensitive, sensate evidence concerning the significance of the human voice as part of experience. In the end, how well do we know what being a human entails?
”Life. Luminous and holy, the ineffable”.3