Thursday, January 26, 2012

Songs of the Uncanny Valley:

Songs notice.
Songs do not notice.


Readers of this blog will note that the last few posts of pieces are based on the synthesized voices native to MS Word. What's up?

These pieces are my explorations of synthesized text "reading" -- the interface of the fictional persona (the computer 'character') and the human meaning of the text (language, we are trained to assume by default is 'human', has a source in cognition or expression. My texts themselves are supposed to be problematizing this issue, particularly in light of the robotic voice with shares some properties with the human and the expressive voice. Also, the relationship between speaking, song, melody, and inflection. The pieces are supposed to be chant-like and hypnotic and disconcerting in some kind of uncanny valley between human and not, between music and not, between chant and something else. This effect, to me is most present in the whispered text (Old Mother) with its allusion to broken old men voices or ghost-like whispers. 


The short piece, above, is a setting of the punctuation of the first twenty sonnets of Shakespeare. This is taken from my book The Servants of Dust (published by derek beaulieu's mighty No Press). Punctuation. What kind of lyrics are those? Is this expressive? Of what? There's music and play in the reading of the punctuation. I find it disconcerting but yet fun. I'd like to do a set of the entire punctuation of the sonnets. Boring, but in a transcendent, non-developmental way. Like reading the punctuation of the Bible and leaving out the words. (Yes! I have to try that. An adaptation of the Bible, but only the punctuation. )

I kept this setting very very simple and highly repetitive in order to make it more trippy and minimalist. I like the strange rhythms created and the pseudo-meditative effect with sudden accelerations. Also the 'drama' of the minimal and how this highly self-similar piece has its own micro-dramas and nano-suspenses.

So how do you respond to these recordings? Are they unsettling? Boring? Do they exist in an uncanny aesthetic valley? In a canyon of failure or loss? A fissure of imagination or boredom? What's the relationship between the setting and the text? I'm interested in how these play in people's heads.

1 comment:

Eccentric Scholar said...

My favorite so far is "Old Mother" -- definitely unsettling.