Name, first nameChristine_MüllerYear of birth1995UniversityFHNWField of Interest / research fieldIconic ResearchTitle of projectSomething between My Mouth and My EarAbstractIn the act of oral communication, many things are happening simultaneously. Sensual perception, language processing and memory work together in the attempt to convey or assign meaning. Besides the controversy, if we can explain why humans can communicate and understand each other, or if we have to accept that we just feel that we can communicate in spite of constant misinterpretation, this thesis project is interested in the material side of spoken language, the bodily manifestation as voice and concomitant gestures and facial expressions. Little attention has been paid to the material part of language and beyond until recently, while at the same time the use of terms like “voice” and “spoken language” were used frequently in language philosophic, philosophic and linguistic discussions. Instead spoken language was intellectualized for the greater part of the 20th century. Initiated by contemporary art movements, such as Fluxus, Media Art, Performance Art and the Performing Arts, in which artists use their bodies and technical devices in an innovative way, cultural sciences are finding a new paradigm through the “performative orientation”.

Besides all differences, philosophy, linguistics and cultural studies seem to agree on the notion that the voice respectively oral communication is an ephemeral phenomenon. Ephemeral can be described as short-term existence, without tangible beginning or end. While disappearing is expected, the exact moment of disappearing is not forseeable and cannot be controlled. In consequence, ephemeral processes cannot be observed repeatedly. With the aim to raise the perceiver’s awareness for the ephemeral aspect of the communicative act and its nature of multi-layered production and perception processes, I explored in which aspects of voice the ephemeral manifests, by using computer generated voices. This strategy of negation and exhaustion of the bodily features of voice that accompany, but transgress the lexical sense of spoken language, reveals the potential of human voices. Synthetic voices do not originate from a body. They are able to convey the informative part of a message, whereas they are not able to sigh, to laugh, to quaver, to bawl. They do not breath in and out while they “speak” and they never mumble. In short, as perceivers we do not receive any information about emotional states or an attitude towards the information conveyed. Interestingly, specific, nonlinguistic information gets delivered with them and provoke virtual images in our imagination, even in a bodily respect. This interference of sensual perception is further explored in experimentations that question what happens if ephemeral instances of uttering are repeated. Since the ephemeral is defined by not being repeatable, the attempt of doing so constitutes a paradox. The paradox situation is analyzed not only from the side of the speaker who produces the utterings again and again, but also from the side of the perceiver, since the receiver changes the perceived likewise through the act of listening.
TutorsJinsu Ahn, Toni Hildebrandt, Paloma López Grüninger
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Something between My Mouth and My Ear