Lucy (2009) Video/Music Installation

Lucy is a about an experience of the body and self-consciousness through the voice. The video portrays a character in a black void singing. The voice escapes the body (the image) and travels in the actual space (soundsystem) surrounding the audience. The numerous layers of voices accumulate; floating in the air creating a musical composition while the image illuminates and fades with the placement and volume of the sound. I recorded the voices very close up, to capture the physicality of it or what Roland Barthes would call the “grain of the voice”. The voice fills the space and enfolds the audience while the image is distant. The installation space is a black box the only light shining coming from the projector and the projected image. When the viewer enters the completely dark space, he looses the sense of his body and in a way becomes disembodied.  I’m fascinated with the idea of the disembodied voice. I experience singing as a direct expression, without a filtering process, where it feels almost as if the voice comes directly from the self, through the body as an instrument. I imagine that the voice represents the “self” or is an extension of it.  The voice as an invisible being; removed from the body and projected without its source could be associated to ethereal elements like the soul. In film the disembodied voice can be used as a tool to represent an all-seeing being. According to Michel Chion (1947), the “acousmetre” in film is an unseen mystery character that is represented only by the voice. The word acousmatic is an old word; it’s meaning being “sound that is heard without its cause or source being seen”1 and was adopted by Pierre Schaeffer (1910-1995) to designate this form of listening. The origin of the word acousmatic traces back to ancient Greece and refers to the followers of Pythagoras called the acousmatiques. His pupils had to “spend five years in silence listening to their master speak behind a curtain, at the end of which they could look at him and were full members of the sect.”2 Because the “acousmetre” is not bound to a body and is represented by the voice, it adopts the same powers as sound, being omnipresent, invisible, and knows and sees all due to its association with the eye of the camera. When its body is revealed and the voice is seen coming from the mouth, the “acousmetre” loses its powers and becomes a mortal as it has been assigned a body. This is what Chion calls the “de-acousmatization” and for example is exactly what happens in the scene from The Wizard of OZ (1939), when it turns out that the wizard is really just a man hiding behind a curtain.  In the work LUCY I explore the idea of the “acousmetre” where the portrayed character desperately struggles to control and embody the voice or where perhaps it is the voice that is seeking the body.

1 Chion. The voice in cinema, p.18
2  ibid. p. 19

Installation view, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum / Photo credit: Maja Theodoraki