The Pure Voice is a project based on a social context research, giving as a result an interactive installation where All visitors will have the opportunity to free their voices of normative gender, by their own perception, achieving a neutral voice or beyond, acquiring new nuances.
Neutrality or fluidity in pitch, being applied to the current social categorization of normative gender, results the start of the perfect genderless voice. The Pure Voice. An unlabeled voice. A pure voice because, in essence, we All are water. The installation uses, as a recode element, something as pure and relative to human being as water. The water acts as a transmitter medium, purifying and stripping categorizations, showing the human essence. The live voice of the participants passes through it, providing the neutral or fluid essence, deleting gender bias. The key element “the poetry” is represented by a digital water audio spectro showing visitor voices interaction.
The Pure Voice as a project focuses its attention on undoing gender. Because as Judith Butler stated (2006), “Gender is a social construct”. Butler’s claim about gender performativity posits that, gender is not naturally assigned but is made up of the acts that mark a person as “man” or “woman” (dress, mannerisms, etc.). And it is through the repetition of those gendered acts that the illusion of a stable gender identity is created. These acts are reproduced through established norms and controlled by institutional powers that tell us how to perform as a man and how not to perform as a man and how to perform as a woman and how not to perform as a woman. This performance generates the retroactive illusion of an existing gender inner core.
But we are not talking about war, let’s keep it neutral, we are talking about love. And everyone deserves to love themselves. For this reason, society needs to open its mind within a scene of constraint. Therefore, The Pure Voice - Undoing Gender, starts from neutrality and fluidity as a strategy to denaturalize and resignify bodily categories. Under Butler’s performative theory, it is proposed neutralization and decategorization through the voice and its distortion/modulation as a channeler to disrupt the categories of the body, sex, gender, and sexuality, and occasion their subversive resignification and proliferation beyond the binary frame (Butler, p. xxxiv).
To achieve it, in-depth research through diverse biomechanical parameters was conducted in collaboration with The Official College of Speech and Language Therapists of Madrid. Where feminization, masculinization, and neutralization of the voice through the manipulation of the larynx, the resonators, the length of the throat, the vocal cords among other anatomical morphologies were given special emphasize.
The project was realized in collaboration with Colegio Oficial de Logopedas de Madrid [https://colegiologopedasmadrid.com/home]
and supported by a grant from Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) [https://www.accioncultural.es].
In Dialogue: Artist Talk with WRO Art Center, Wroclaw
WRO Art Center: Your projects are situated at the intersection of art, science and technology. Why have you decided to explore such an interdisciplinary path?
OPN Studio: As an artistic duo, we have always shared our concerns. As well as our backgrounds have been merged to fulfil key objectives during our research. We are interested since the first beginning in science, art, and technology due to our training related to engineering, design, and art. Therefore, all these fields help us to work within our research by reflecting on the individual in a broad context. And focusing the study on the vicissitude related to the human condition, as a social being, as a mortal entity or corporeal substance.
WRO Art Center: During the EMAP residency at WRO you’re working on a brand new project The Pure Voice – Undoing gender. Please present shortly the ideas behind this participatory, interactive sound installation. What triggered you to start such a project?
OPN Studio: The Pure Voice – Undoing gender is based on a social context research with a real objective to undoing gender. This project has been embodied through an interactive installation where all visitors will have the chance to free their voices from normative gender, by their own perception (under democratized decision), achieving a neutral voice or beyond, acquiring new nuances. We decided to launch this proposal under the title of The Pure Voice – Undoing Gender because we think that the society needs to open its mind within a scene of constraint. We embrace Judith Butler’s claim about gender performativity that posits that, gender is not naturally assigned but is made up of the acts that mark a person as “man” or “woman” (dress, mannerism, etc.) and it is through the repetition of those gendered acts that the illusion of a stable identity is created. These acts are reproduced through established norms and controlled by institutional powers that tell us how to perform as a man and how not to perform as a man, and how to perform as a woman and how not to perform as a woman. This performance generates the retroactive illusion of an existing gender inner core. But we are not talking about war, (let’s keep it neutral), we are talking about love. And everyone deserves to love themselves. That is why, The Pure Voice – Undoing Gender project launches questions to generate dialogue about this concern as the following one: How much we rethink the ideal morphological constraints upon the human such that those who fail to approximate the norm are not condemned to a death within life? Therefore, The Pure Voice – Undoing Gender, starts form neutrality and fluidity as a strategy to denaturalize and re-signify bodily categories. Under Butler’s performative theory, it is proposed neutralization and de-categorization through the voice and its distortion/modulation as a channeller to disrupt the categories of the body, sex, gender, and sexuality; and occasion their subversive resignification and proliferation beyond the binary frame.
WRO Art Center: The Pure voice – Undoing Gender is purely participatory work, with an important active role of the audience? Tell us more about it. Why you’re shaping the work that way?
OPN Studio: Firstly, we have to say that the best way to transmit a concern is by interactivity and participation. Therefore, an interactive installation was selected as the best choice. Secondly, in relation to neutral voice as one of our first research objectives, the
study has shown that not every voice can be neutralized due to specific limitations related to anatomical morphologies above or below usual standards such as, vocal cords, resonators, and larynx length, among others. Otherwise, be noted that neutralization is susceptible to everyone’s idiosyncratic perception and cognitive perception. Therefore, a preset voice is not feasible embracing wiser approaches based on democratized decisions. This democratization process giving the chance to the visitors to modulate their voices besides selecting the result by their own perception, is a favourable decision for the collection of data during the sample.
Moreover, some voices are easier to neutralize, masculinize or feminize than others. According to voices studies (The Voice Clinical, voiceclinicalsystems.com), female voices are easier to masculinize than male voices when require feminization. Besides, diverse biomechanical parameters such as fundamental frequency (F0) / (HZ), vocal cords vibration, glottic closing force and tension besides mucous wave index together with the pitch, nuances, and emotions play an important role. Hence, due to all these key findings, our approach is not just focused on neutralization of the voice but also going beyond the non-binary plane through fluidity, feminization, masculinization, and every nuance of voice acquired during the visitor’s interaction process. This will amplify and reinforce the study and the aim. To sum up, due to all these findings we decided to shape this project this way.