Brandon LaBelle, Christof Migone (eds.): Writing Aloud: The Sonics of Language (2001)

8 May 2019, dusan

Writing Aloud is an anthology focusing on the relationship of language to sound, writing to music, and brings together a highly diverse collection of essays, interviews, meditations, visual projects, text-sound scores and audio by some of the leading individuals in the field of cultural and performance studies, experimental music and contemporary art.

Starting from the perspective that the sound of the voice is crucial to our perceptions and understandings of language, to the creative possibility of being without language, Writing Aloud examines the repercussions of such a perspective. Considering the sonics of words, it extends this examination of vocalization and articulation into how it contributes to and influences communication and notions of self-recognition. And further, how orality effects the act of writing itself, stages the tension between sense and non-sense, and provides space for self-reflection.

Through cultural, historical, linguistic, musical and artistic histories and practices, this field of research is addressed in order to open up a diversity of attitudes and approaches toward a broader understanding of what it means to speak. Such works as Nicholas Zurbrugg’s detailed examination of the history of sound-poetry, which underscores this often under-represented field as being a vital link between the avant-gardes of modernism and contemporary culture; Sean Cubitt’s meditation on the voice in relation to contemporary technologies; and Fred Moten’s examination of the Black avant-garde through the works of Billy Strayhorn, Delaney, and Antonin Artaud in relation to deeper questions of identity – these original works advance our understanding of ‘vocalization’ as existing within a complex and highly charged social, political and cultural arena where identity is a contested site.

In conjunction with these analytical works, Writing Aloud also provides readers with some valuable reconsiderations and reproductions of historical work, such as Marina Abramovic’s performance from 1975, Freeing the Voice, in which the artist exhales every breath as a scream for one hour; plus a revealing and insightful interview with the composer Alvin Lucier, whose compositions from the 60s to today continue to challenge and astound listeners; a valuable document of a long lost French artist, Arthur Petronio, whose recordings from the mid-60s, Verbophonie, trace a highly personal and idiosyncratic terrain of voice and electronics; and important visual and audio documentation of an early installation, Body Building, by the artist Vito Acconci. Through such a range of contributions Writing Aloud suggests links between disparate practices and stimulates conversations between disciplines, one which follows the line where text and sound meet, speaking and music collide, and theory and writing converse.

Also included in the anthology are GX Jupitter-Larsen, Terri Kapsalis, Norie Neumark, Kim Dawn, Alexandre St-Onge, Jocelyn Robert, Robert Ashley, Achim Wollscheid, Bart Plantenga, Vincent Barras, Michel Chion, John Duncan, and others.”

Publisher Errant Bodies, Los Angeles, 2001
ISBN 9780965557030, 0965557030
279 pages
via cmigone

Reviews: Christopher DeLaurenti (The Tentacle, 2001), Jim Drobnick (Parachute, 2002), John Dack (Computer Music Journal, 2003).

Publisher
Editor
WorldCat

PDF (37 MB)

Marjorie Perloff: The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant Guerre, and the Language of Rupture (1986)

22 March 2019, dusan

“Marjorie Perloff’s stunning book was one of the first to offer a serious and far-reaching examination of the momentous flourishing of Futurist aesthetics in the European art and literature of the early twentieth century. Offering penetrating considerations of the prose, visual art, poetry, and carefully crafted manifestos of Futurists from Russia to Italy, Perloff reveals the Moment’s impulses and operations, tracing its echoes through the years to the work of “postmodern” figures like Roland Barthes.”

Publisher University of Chicago Press, 1986
ISBN 0226657310, 9780226657318
xxiii+288 pages

Reviews: Gregory L. Ulmer (Criticism, 1988), Hank Lazer (South Atlantic Review, 1988), Timothy Materer (Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 1988), Patricia Hopkins (Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature, 1988), Willard Bohn (Comparative Literature, 1989), Jean-Michel Rabaté (Jacket2, 2012).
Interview with author (Harriet, 2013)

Author
Publisher
WorldCat

PDF (18 MB)

Melpomene: Bagabone, Hem ‘I Die Now (1980)

26 October 2018, dusan

Bagabone, Hem ‘I Die Now (1980) is perhaps the first novel that was purportedly written by a computer.

The back flap of the dust jacket states this about the book’s origins: “Can a computer write a novel? To find out, some experts in literature, linguistics, and computers at the Institute of Science and Technology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, programed a computer, Melpomene, with English verb patterns and semantic (i.e., meaning) units drawn from twentieth-century women writers, as well as D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and some ‘angry young men’ of the 1960s. Then they added some patterns and units from Pidgin English and French, and the astounding result is Bagabone, Hem ‘I Die Now. Melpomene, which is the name of the Greek muse of tragedy, picked the title; translated from Pidgin English, it means, ‘Bagabone (a character in the novel) is dying.'”

Following its publication, Computer World published an article (“Publisher Claims Computer Composed Novel”, 25 Aug. 1980, p. 23) effectively defeating the publisher’s claim about the work’s computational origins. In the article, AI experts deem the novel to be human-written, and another source reports that there is no ‘Institute of Science and Technology’ at Jagiellonian University. Moreover, due to its mode of operation, the publisher (Vantage Press) would apparently have been paid to print the book. The copyright holder for Bagabone was a human—an Englishman named G.E. Hughes—who could not be reached by Computer World. (Intriguingly, this copy of the book is inscribed by one ‘Eric Hughes’, though this could be coincidental.)”

Publisher Vantage Press, New York, 1980
ISBN 0533042496, 9780533042494
136 pages
via James Ryan (xfoml)

Commentary: Peter Swirski (2013), James Ryan (2017), Joanna J Bryson (2018).

WorldCat

PDF (40 MB)
Internet Archive