u and i



This series of four pieces produced by Jenimaro around the turn of the millenium were part of an exploration of how multimedia applications could be used to build interactive soundscapes online. Sounds used were all processed samples of the artist's own voice manipulated with various devices such as vocoders and digital filters.

For over a century now, technology has enabled the material unfettering of voices from bodies through recording and sound amplification. Since the 19950s when the tape recorder became available, we have witnessed the development of a vastly expanded palette of vocal sounds which can be made through electronic manipulation. Experimentation with voice and new media has been a prominent strand of innovative activity in music, performance poetry and sound art.

Voice has also gained popular currency as a signifier for cultural and political agency. ‘Having a voice’ has been used in relation to all manner of policies and practices of franchise and the question of ‘Whose voices are heard?’ or perhaps ‘Who is authorised to speak?’ continues to preoccupy activists and academics in multiple sites where power and difference are contested.

In Australia from the 1970s composers, sound poets and performance artists have produced a small but vigorous body of experimental music and sound in which electronically manipulated voices play a key role. The creative uses of the voice-technology nexus by these artists may be simply playful or deployed more seriously as a powerful tool for cultural critique. For example, the Sydney ensemble Machine for Making Sense has produced a substantial body of work in which vocal fragments and sonic montage are used to explore the complexities of postmodern Australia.

Following in the footsteps of these artists with some of the same preoccupations and techniques, Jeimaro uses Macromedia's Flash as a multimedia tool for working with sound. With their unique possibilities for user manipulation, computer interfaces can be made to work as complex audio instruments. Users can interact with MouthWorks pieces by switching sounds on and off in various combinations to build sonic texture and movement. No piece can ever be performed exactly the same twice over.


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