Peggy Phelan on ‘Locating Voice’

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Photo by Shawn Ballantine / Chisenhale Dance Space / 2008

On 22 March 2012 Professor Peggy Phelan (Stanford University) spoke on ‘Locating Voice’ at QMUL.

Blurb: Combining a psychoanalytic and phenomenological interest in voice, this talk thinks through some of the challenges involved in vocal performances, including performances that occur without words. At once disembodied and of the body, voice presents significant questions for those interested in creating a taxonomy of live human performance. Considerations of voice
return us both to the category of presence, so central to Derridean deconstruction, and to the fragility of intimacy at the core of many human bonds. Vocal performances considered here are drawn from the genres of poetry, music, performance art, theatre and dance.

I took some notes / fragments of thoughts / I found them in an old notebook / like a handful of leaves:

– to hear what we see;

– human voice lacks location / it leaves the body;

– voice: exit & entrance;

– Dialogue is physical / a crucial aspect is silence;

– Get out of trying to mean something & dwell in futility;

– The stressed & the unstressed;

– Call and Reply: speech & counter-speech;

– “objective voice” is a psychoanalytic concept;

– Voice moves and re-enters the ear;

– Dwelling / Homelessness;

– Straining towards listening;

– Pause the tape;

– Intimate voice / Performance voice;

– The voice enforces civilizations onto someone who is not eager to embrace it;

– Asymmetrical dialogue b/n parent and child;

– There is a physical limit to aural performance – the exhaustion of speaking and listening;

– The noise of the eyes;

– The flow of breath should determine punctuation;

– Sound as sounds as opposed to sound as message;

La La La La La

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