My live art seeks to make the vitality of earthly materials tangibly audible. Voice and gesture are employed to listen to the vibratory energy of materials; to greet them with respect for their own agency, origins and capacities. I have created site-responsive works specific to organic and synthetic materials such as a river, a cliff, boulders, coal, eggs, wool, timber, bitumen, fencing, an ancient city wall, gypsum board and air conditioners.
Each work bore out the affective quality of voice, not as song, but as guttural tones, which pointed to a material’s life and plight, and tell a story aurally rather than through verbal language. Consistent amongst these works is a reoccurring sense of grief, sorrow, or lament for a material’s (ill) health and well-being.
Vital Tones will critically reflect on three videos that amplify the experience of an original performance work in another media, to another audiences. I will contextualise each work in the field(s) of performance/sound theory to highlight the power of sonic works to draw out and disrupt deep-seated emotions towards materials as dead things.
Aue (2015) offers an aural lament using my mouth and throat as a likeness for the NZ river’s polluted mouth. In an indeterminate and enigmatic water-land-body relationship, it evokes sorrow for water that is not fit for entering, let alone consuming. The words it repeats and mis-speaks are translated from Te Reo Māori as oro (resound, echo, resonate), awa (river, stream), waha (mouth, entrance, voice), wai (song, water, liquid) and aue (cry, howl, wail).
The video wwwww (with Joshua Lewis, 2017) recalls a performance at Matiu Island, NZ where I became an embodied sounding instrument charged by the wind to read the fence continuously as long as it took to circumnavigate the quarantine facility. Pitched as an aural weather forecast, the performance’s score was informed by techniques of repairing the metal fencing as well as local climatic data.
Erratic Refrains (with Joshua Lewis, 2018) revisits RPM hums, where I sought to syncopate with air conditioning condensers, which, through a transfer of energy, produce airflow via kinetic movement that misaligns brushes, distorts magnets, and expands/contracts copper wire, generate a irritating noise. Tuning to their out-of-round rotations, I quivered and spasmed as a complimentary humming machine.