edited by Norie Neumark, Ross Gibson, Theo Van Leeuwen V01CE: Vocal Aesthetics in Digital Arts and Media


The MIT Press, August 2010, ISBN: 978-0262013901, A Leonardo Book, 440 pp., 20 illus.
Born in the context of the rich Australian audio and sound studies (as all the three editors are), this is an anthology of texts with a wide range of perspectives, dealing with the essence of the voice as a primary method of communicating and expressing, at various levels, the countless mediations that technologies apply. The symbolic, strategical or significant use of voice in dance, cinema, online multiplayer games as well as in radio, voice mail and podcasts is discussed in different essays, but a couple also took the opportunity to experiment with their assigned space in the book. So Theresa M. Senft in “Four Rooms” tells four stories where voice is embodied by the activity of a phone sex worker, through the moving content of cancer care tapes, through a voice recognition operator demonstrating a software, and through the classic “I Am Sitting in a Room” by Alvin Lucier. Mark Amerika’s “Professor VJ’s Big Blog Mashup”, another inclusion, is a poem in his very unique style. It’s a remarkable book, and the collection of essays is comprehensive, involving both artists describing their work, and theoreticians. Beyond the classic references, like Roland Barthes’ “The Grain of the Voice” text or the critique of phono-centrism and logocentrism by Derrida, there’s a dualism present between the icon of the “real” voice (a recording of a human) affecting every professional media production and the sophisticated digital tools that can shape recordings at will, imposing alternative historical narratives.