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voices & bodies : a long human history!


For a few years, now, I have been developing research work on using the voice to produce body expression other than just language, evolving from sound poetry, elaborating and performing various vocal pieces (in a wider register, ranging from whisper to shout, through noise produced by pressure on the nose). I have also worked on a kind of composition in the field of ‘concrete music in a studio’, managing to transform and expand the range of vocal experiments even further, with the help of digital tools.

After this initial practice of vocal performance in a studio, as well as instrumental improvisation, and with the advent of portable computers, I could begin to digitize and transform voice performance in real time (as I could not have done in my studio - recording - period).

I then realized that it was not possible to respect the temporality and the energy of vocal performances, or their physical involvement, with a ‘filter’/computer which only showed its own limitations, adding material to, or interrupting, reducing or increasing dramatically the strength and energy of a performance. Could a computer become an engine powered by a voice/fuel? Could this ‘digital’ machinery stop behaving like the prop of a performing body and become an automaton where my voice would introduce another temporality? Could my voice/mouth penetrate the heart of a digital machinery rather than just constitute a filter ‘agitator’? At the same time, I started work on automation: how can a machine develop its own transforming cycles without any performer likely to be influenced by the temporality of his/her action or his/her relationship with an audience? How could the fuel/voice/mouth make sense and evolve differently when it is not controlled by anybody but a machine? (Not forgetting that machine and automation are conceived and built by somebody).

The Cremator Opera - Opera for voice & electronics - 2011

Pestilence spectrale d'une persistence - Piece for voice & electronics - 2007

REMEMBREMENT - Piece for voice & computer - made in 2003 - voice as energy feeder for the computer!

VOX - Piece for voice & computer - major first recordings for this serie - between 1999 & 2001

E-BOUCHE - Piece for voice & computer - digital sound poetry made with names - 2000

HOM - piece for voice & surroundings - 1999

ARGRROULUM - Piece for voice only - on André Breton Poems - in 2 sound poem - 1999

LA TRILOGIE DES FANTÔMES: voice & computer - based on deep singing and guttural noises - FSS07

short essay on trilogie des fantomes (new CD voice & computer 2008)


Ghosts and spirits sing through me, my ancient past is living inside me, I am myself, I am them, I am multiple, my tongue is many tongues, my voice is voices beyond voices.

When my voice escapes my mouth, I suddenly became conscious that someone was talking for me, it couldn't be me who says all this. My mind and my cells are full of memories of the past, beyond my life's past. The roots of this singing come from the earliest point in humanity's history, its very fragility, its very strength, is powerful, yet nothing more that another voice belonging to this planet.

Sound poetry opens up the possibility to liberate the potential of the voice, bringing the traditional singing from those roots, bringing me connections to my history. Discovering your own body, your own shout, your own chant, through the air exhaled by your lungs and vibrating through your throat. This tells of nothing more than a sound released by a mouth, and yet it is everything to do with human beings, it tells the stories that we don't remember, makes connections with that which we forgot, with people long since gone, all of this resurgent memories come back again in a furore of air that implode within the body.

Naturally my voices, our voices meet with machines and became more than human, they became something else, an impossible mutation of reverberant living cells coupled with dead metals components that violently merge in a “cyborg” hybrid of voices, noise, saturated shouts and long drones of profound song.

This paradoxical assemblage of improbable beings, machines versus humans, is by no means a dead end - this way, the furore of life pushes the cold logicality of electronic circuits. For many years now this paradox crosses my musical works in this series called voice & computer. My research involves these ambiguous relations of love & hate, attraction and repulsion and of dreams versus nightmare towards machines. Four recording which had never been officially released are studies which address some aspects of these opposing relations, from a very abstract piece formed by the dematerialization of a shout to low voices divided. In the Trilogie des Fantômes, I rediscovered, through live and studio recording, a strong connection to singing, from such typical ways of traditional singing that have been used for centuries, some fundamental singing that crosses humanity, to this mutation with machines taking place through the saturation, amplification, division and digitalization with the possibility to stretch the time of a sound without end.

Voice creates desire, machine capture this desire and create new desire from it, immortality, power, control and reproduction of the nature, machine is being for humans, those forgetting the other beings, his own natural machine, a potential of potentials left under developed. The machines attracted us, we created them to extended our possibilities, to go beyond our weakness, we are machines, we think as machines, they are humans, we are still fighting with our egos, with our dark face, we just materialize a concrete object that overloads us, which we can no longer control, we are lost in a future where humans will no longer be humans as we remember in our pasts, we will be new humans, post humans, we will become meta-humans.

This recording is no more than reflecting this relation between humanity struggle to survive and those machines that we create to help us to survive, but from our condition of consciousness, the consciousness we have of our own death, our own end, and the impossible truth of life. …tbc.

Julien Ottavi


Voix, cris, chant, raclement, micro-son, intérieur de cavité, léger sifflement, crissement, salive en torrent, bruit blanc de bouche, tout un monde sonore, de la miniature à l'explosion d'énergie. C'est ça le souffle premier, les forces pulmonaires, l'acte de parler et d'enfanter un son hors de soi. Être animal, crieur de sang, arrachant la roche de la langue, brulante, en fusion potentiellement hors contrôle, mutation du machinique : amplification, multiplication, en boucle, monstruosité de métal, irruption des circuits électroniques, digital brutale et irrespectueux, de minutes en minutes se découpe, se granule, en délais, en crachant sa saleté, pourrissant de micro-codes et dirty bits. Ghosts et spirits jaillissent! C'est l'histoire des fantômes, loin dans les tréfonds perdus dans nos corps oubliés, languissants d'où nous avons peine à revenir.

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bodies_voices.txt · Last modified: 2016/02/15 00:14 by julien