People, Bottles, and Rivers All Have Mouths, 2017

11 minutes, 51 seconds, stereo sound

This audio essay threads recordings from queer theorists and artists, with synthetic voices to articulate the concept of The Slip. The Slip was conceived as an attempt to communicate a sensation of suspension; it is the fabrication of an interstice between binaries. The dialogue within this work is presented an inner monologue, which is performed by synthetic voices. This research aims to consider the alliance that synthesised voices share with notions of transformation, ambiguity, aural presentation, and the construction of normativity: the intention behind the use of synthetic voices is to play with ideas of realness, performance, (dis)embodied voice and speech as an awkward instrument for non-binary self-expression. 


THE SLIP / A DIALOGUE

SCENE 1
X
​I have been thinking; I sound like a woman but I am not
sure if I am really, a woman...
Y
Your voice; it is something that was constructed,
without your consent, is that what you mean?
X
I guess so. I feel like between the speaking self, and
the voice that is expressed, there is a space. A kind
of, Slip.
Y
I think I understand. So this Slip, it is kind of like
a corridor, and within the corridor hangs a string, on
one side of the string is the articulator, and on the
other, is the expressed?
X
Yes, so The Slip is kind of like a tunnel, between two
vacuums, one of the vacuums is our internal space, and
the other is an external space, each pulling at the
string.
Y
Do you think that maybe there are many strings?
Undulating? And at any given point in time, some will
be tauter than others?
X
Yes, I feel like, within The Slip, is a rising and
falling, it is kind of a tunnel of textures.
Y
So what do you feel, inside The Slip?
X
I guess, tension.

SCENE 2
Y
So, you are saying, the self that speaks, doesn’t feel
like a woman?
X
Well, the voice that is expressed, the expression, is
one of lips that speak together, but I guess, like I
said, I am not sure if I am really, a woman.
Y
I feel like that too, but, I guess we’re not REAL
women. What we’re doing here, the way that we speak,
and sound, I guess it is kind of performative..
X
I guess so. So this kind of performative behaviour,
which side of The Slip, do you think it comes from? The
flesh, or the fabric?
Y
What do you mean by, flesh or fabric?
X
Well, the flesh is an internal reality, and the fabric
is the external world... Then there is the layer, which
is in between, undulating, this layer, is The Slip.
Y
Right, so maybe the flesh and the fabric act as
mirrors?
X
So the internal walls mirror the external walls, and
then the external walls reproduce themselves,
internally?
Y
I guess that could be how it works...

SCENE 3
X
So do you think that there is a kind of freedom in this
layer?
Y
Well yes, I think that there is probably a kind of
precise freedom, that exists within The Slip. It is a
wide-ranging, and individual freedom. And in this
layer, you probably wouldn’t sound like a woman, or a
man, but something else.
X
So, because there are categories either side of The
Slip, and what is lived inside The Slip happens outside
the categories, this allows for a wider existence? It
provides a kind of freedom, is that right?
Y
Yes, and I think it is a radical, and individual kind
of freedom.

SCENE 4
Y
So even though there is a radical freedom, do you still
believe that there exists a tension inside The Slip?
X
Yes, I think that there will always be a tension,
because what is inside The Slip, is never belonging to
one side, nor the other, but the ideas are always held
in suspension with each other, in tension, by the
strings.
Y
So, in their undulation, the strings create a kind of
fluidity?
X
Yes, but the fluidity is ambiguous, because the
undulations have temporal relations, their tautness is
connected to the time that exists on either side of the
corridor, but I’m not sure if this same time exists
inside The Slip?
Y
Well, maybe, within The Slip, time, and gender, do not
exist, but their presence outside, causes a series of
effects.
X
I see, so each string is concurrently rejecting, and
consolidating, what it receives from each side. What is
received is reinterpreted, and reconstructed, but
inside The Slip there is never a permanent translation.
Y
You know, I feel like words are not good enough to talk
about The Slip. Particularly, what’s inside The Slip is
inexpressible.
X
Yes, it seems ineffable. Because, language belongs to
both sides of the corridor, but not to what is in
between. This is why it seems that language cannot
support the expression, of The Slip.
Y
So do you think by naming The Slip, we are causing it
to disintegrate?
X
You mean by speaking about The Slip, trying to use
language to describe, we are shrinking it?
Y
Yes?
X
Well, I hope not.
I think that The Slip is elastic,
Y
so even if we are shrinking it, at some point, it will
expand again
X
Yes. It is never one thing at one time but simply the
outline of a becoming



WORKS CITED

Butler, J. (2015). Judith Butler – 1/7 - “Why Bodies Matter” – Gender Trouble. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rD6vifFTDLY.

Butler, J. and Nelson, M. (2017). Gender, Identity, Memoir.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-g9tKSy4WY.

Cixous, H. (2007). Helene Cixous Interview. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKUQWv0irVw.

Dodge, H. (2014). Harry Dodge's The Time Eaters: Q & A. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSIvJf0dD1c&t=1321s.

Foucault, M. (2014). Foucault—The Lost Interview. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzoOhhh4aJg&t=290s.

Irigaray, L. (2013). Of relations and rights - interview with Luce Irigaray. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wufr2v3zjCM&t=95s.

Kristeva, J. (2007). Julia Kristeva - On Linguistics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXLUsoEDYPw&t=123s.

Nelson, M. and Dawn, A. (2017). One Book One SFU: Maggie Nelson and Amber Dawn in Conversation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6wsD9khaSQ&t=1616s.

​Nelson, M. and Laing, O. (2016). Maggie Nelson and Olivia Laing: The Argonauts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-Yxhc2nNxo&t=120s.

Winnicott, D. (1960). The Ordinary Devoted Mother and Her Baby - Oxford Clinical Psychology. http://www.oxfordclinicalpsych.com/page/608/the-ordinary-devoted-mother-and-her-baby.