Prosody as Messy Measurement Membrane
Thursday, May 14th at 8pm EST, ISSUE is pleased to present Prosody as Messy Measurement Membrane, a new video piece from artist, composer, and 2012 ISSUE Artist-In-Residence Jules Gimbrone. The piece is part of the Isolated Field Recording Series, commissioning artists to produce field recordings to be streamed over the course of this challenging and isolated time.
Note from Jules Gimbrone on Prosody as Messy Measurement Membrane:
“There is a membrane, fluid, space, flesh and skin that first creates an apparent separation–inside/outside. The fetus hears the voice of the human through this membrane—the prosody of the language—intonation, tone, stress and rhythm. The musical part of language is what we mimic in our first wails and cries. These beginning vocalizations are sounds we also hear in the languages of animals. Early hominids used, and song birds, primates, and babies use prosody for emotional expression and communicative coordination. Acoustic signaling—pitch level, pitch duration, volume, pausing, intonation, speed, breath—is the primordial vector between ourselves and another. Hello. Get away. I am hungry. I am scared. I want you.
The empirical project of identifying abstractions (identity in general) external to us, naming them, and placing them in discrete quantifiable categories starts with the leap from sounds to verbal language. With words we approximate the truth, and we give discrete measurement for that which had previously been a cacophony of contingent call-and-responses. The word reigns as the supreme tool, measurement, locus of knowledge and power. We turn to words when we are scared of the abstractions, when the world of shadows is descending upon us in order to give structure and order; to make objects. Man. Woman. Black. White.
The ‘field’ in the field recording is the place of this world of shadows. The field is the outside; all that is messy, unknown, external, undefinable, raw, natural, untamed, unknown, influx, permeable, scary, inefficient, loud, and dark. In the field is the monstrous beast that is howling, growling, and tearing a chaotic path.
The ‘recording’ in the field recording is the tool of measurement. The recording mechanism, like a photograph, proclaims to record a type of truth of this outside place. Like most valued tools, it is used like a type of scientific instrument; by extending the capacity of the human ear, the microphone and amplifying device becomes a type of transhuman prosthetic able to survey the ‘field’ for features otherwise unknown.
What is the prosody of the membrane? Instead of putting the measurement in a tool aimed at capturing truth, we listened to the membrane, the window between, as a messy measurement between the field and the hand holding the microphone, the camera, the microscope. We give this membrane a chance to speak, not through words, but through non-verbal affects. An opportunity to articulate the real as a series of abstract relationships between the inside and the outside.”