Friday, March 1, 2013
AGF - Source Voice (2013)
There is perhaps a peculiar honesty to the human voice which has nothing to say - in the age of unspeakable horrors what truth is there of suffering than the pain of its incommunicability? The message, the content, which, under the weight of overdrivven fog, cannot even begin to articulate itself without being smothered, was the genius of How to Dress Well's Love Remains. But what is the result of content stripped of any content? What remains of the voice in this instance is the substrate of material suffering that Roland Barthes recognized as the "grain of the voice" - not just the texture of the voice, but also the material and historical body's instantiation and continuation as the voice. The grain of the voice is the texture is the voice below the level of semantic content (the "phenotext" versus the "genotext") and as such is the body materializing itself in and as voice. Adorno has located the material body, below the indentitarian perversions of rationalization, as the true site of suffering. Then the grain of the human voice - in its crying out as suffering - is the substrate of the substrate of suffering. It is the material imprint of suffering that will not even rise to the level of language's symbolic (and hence dangerously instrumental) rationality.
The locus of the voice on Source Voice is everywhere circling around this grain, suppressing its content and thus "giving voice" to the tragedy that is suffering barred from linguistic expression. The deep, digital imprints with which AGF (Antye Greie, East-German composer and wife of Vladislav Delay's Sasu Ripatti) crafts her vocal textures and arrangements sets into the discussion of the grain of the voice a new contradiction. What voice it lets out bears in fact a digital grain. The body of the voices here are digital bodies, virtual bodies, and hence bodies without materiality, essentially non-bodies. And yet, for all this, their grain is all the more palpable. The fuzz, the glitch, the deep, sand-papery textures that pervade these voices are contradictory expressions of a material body that has, via the mediation of the digital, been removed from its materiality. It has transcended it only to produce the effects of its now-lost immanence.
In this regard the tragedy of Source Voice is the tragedy - and the antagonistic capacity of this tragedy's future reconciliation - of voice in the age of its digital reproduction (more pertinently, production, for productions' sake). We are all bodies expressing the contentless materiality of expressing our materiality through digital means. If this is our soundtrack, its resolute content says this: that there is sublimity in the mimesis of this corporeal situation - the real virtualization of the corporeal as such. We are bodies without bodies (not organs!) who nevertheless bear within our voices the granular remnants of a materiality which has denied itself. It is this sublime tragedy which AGF expertly expresses in the voice (and its other) filtered through the indifferent monster if digital texture.