I Am Talking To You, audiovisual installation, video - Michaela Kuříková, sound - Jorge Boehringer, photos by Michal Ures
When Jana first proposed that I compose a soundtrack for the installation I AM TALKING TO YOU, the first idea was to try to find a meaningful parallel in sound to some of the mappings between text and image elsewhere applied in her work. After further consideration I decided to experiment with the rhythm and cadence of the spoken text, which I recorded Jana reading in several different ways, and a varying rates. I resolved to retain the pulse and phrasing of the speech, in that this might preserve the sense that a meaningful language was being conveyed, but to render completely alien both the voice and the syntax of the speech.
Language can be thought of as existing on many structural levels. On the surface level, we have the grain and the sound of the individual spoken voice. Taking a step back, there are certain sounds and inflections specific to a culture, and shared, or not, by others. Going deeper into the structure of specifically sounding language, one finds a rhythmic structure which accommodates not only the necessity of breathing, but also of conveying organized concepts - meaning, embedded in ever deepening layers of grammatical structuring. The word-phrase-sentence structure in languages share many things in common and yet can be seen to be specific to individual cultures. The need for conveying an understood sense is carried to the deepest level of a language, and is manifest on all of the rhymic/melodic layers in which a language's spoken form is expressed.
In order to maintain something of the cadence of the spoken Czech language, while rendering the actual speech and syntax other, I opted to transform the flickering sounds of the words of the spoken language into a flickering electronic sound timbre, somewhere between a spoken and an electronic sound, midway between organic and machine-like.
To this end I adopted the following process:
From the recordings I made of Janas read text (see text below), I chose two. I preformed the same process on each with only minor variations, in order to see how the results would coincide or differ.
The process consisted of first making five copies of each chosen file. Each individual copy was then treated with a five-stage resonant filter tuned to a synthetic harmonic series based on a fundamental of 390 Hz (a concert G, just a little flat, for added colour-vibration). Each of the five original copies was processed with similar resonant filters who shared the 390 Hz fundamental but differed slightly in the tuning of the individual stages (basically outlining a C major chord, above the 390 Hz fundamental - that would actually be a G, again to add a gentle shimmering dissonance).
The result the five original processed tracks where then mixed together, and run back through the same bank of filters, each time, producing slightly greater abstraction from the original sound of the spoken voice, and also do to the release stage of the filters, which I set to slightly longer lengths with each iteration, longer sustain. This process was repeated seven times, four with a longer sustain for the release stage of the filter and three with a very short release stage. The purpose of this was to get a long, smooth tone based on, but totally abstracted from, the voice, and also a very short colourful and quickly-changing version that followed the rhythm of the speech. These last two versions where then mixed together, and then a variable panning was added so that the whole sound vibrates back and fourth between the speakers very quickly, but with varying speeds, as if we are listening from inside of a giant alien throat whose horizontal oscillations reflect the nature of our own vibrating vocal chords in metaphor.