SMASH #5 three-week module
the space between voice and gesture
Alessandra Eramo
Dec 08 – 12, 2014

The voice is ephemeral and invisible: can we ‘write’ the voice? Is it true that it is difficult to capture? Usually the voice is used for communicating or as an instrument for singing, mostly based on text and verbal language. That is why it is often overlaid by intellectual content when intentionally used to convey a message to a recipient. In any voice expression not only are the uvula and vocal cords involved, but also the vibrant, rhythmic, gesticulating body in its totality and uniqueness. That is why the act of singing connected with bodily movement and gesture denude us and shows our own instincts. Because the voice is our body, it contains all our history and it shows our identity. While referring to the deepest aspects of our own cultural belonging, the voice discloses our nature. The aim of this workshop is to explore and analyze the oral and written phenomena of voice, in particular to focus on the relationship between voice and gesture. Gesture is intended not only as a physical movement, but as trace of a performative act in a specific time and space. Like the voice, the gesture is a sign that refers to other meanings: cultural belonging, nature and identity.

Starting from the fact that a physical gesture is always resonant, we will bring this together with the sound through our voice, where a physical movement contains not only a visual but also a sonic presence. Questioning the voice as an ephemeral and invisible phenomenon we are searching for the possibility to ‘draw’ the voice. A gesture, a written sign or a drawing that appears silent on the page, can contain in itself a world of sounds and voices. What does it sound like inside these voices? As the voice is invisible, we can make it visible through a gesture or a drawing during the act of vocalization. In this way it will be possible to overcome the dichotomy between orality and writing. In this workshop we will find interactions between drawing and vocal expression to unveil the gestural aspects that are hidden in our voice. The focus of our working together lies on the relationship between voice and ‘writing’ in its multiple forms, where writing is not reducible to the fixation of oral language, but is intended also as a medium to represent non-linguistic events in music (field recording, graphical notations) and in visual arts (drawing, gesture, text) and their hybrids. In this sense, we can always find an interesting space to explore between a vocal act and a ‘writing’ act. Using original methods of gestural drawing we will work on the process of visualization of the voice. Through the practice of recording our voices and environmental sounds in and outside of the studio, we will work on the process of capturing and fixating upon these ephemeral sonic phenomena. We will learn innovative techniques (e.g. deformation, distortion, alienation) finding irregularities of the voice based on our individual body constitution, in order to reemerge the natural aspects of our voice, and to discover its original physical presence as a bodily expression. We will construct an original repertoire of gestures never disconnected from our own voice, revealing our culture, identity and finally our own nature. We will experience together an innovative interdisciplinary practice in vocal performance art, in order to create a collective composition for voice, gesture, drawings and field recordings, which will be publicly performed at the conclusion of the workshop.

Comfortable clothes, drawing paper, graphite pencils, audio digital recorder or Dictaphone


Alessandra Eramo (*1982 Taranto, South Italy) is a sound artist, vocalist and performer who lives
and works in Berlin. For her live-performances, compositions, videos and installations she investigates the human voice as a multi-faceted instrument, exploring the phonetics and the physical aspects of singing and speech, this in relationship to writing, gesture and sign in their multiple forms. Cultural and linguistic interactions have strongly influenced her research, which mainly focuses on process-oriented aesthetics. Through the conjunction of sound and image, her work takes on hybrid forms between sound art, poetry and visual art. She makes sound in connection to real or imaginary territories: using found and environmental sounds, questioning concepts like 'identity/belonging', 'intimacy/fragility', 'unexpected/ unknown', and therefore the concept of noise and silence in the individual and collective experience of listening.

In the past ten years her work has been presented extensively in Europe, USA and Canada at contemporary music festival, theatres and art galleries including at: Galerie Haus am Lützowplatz Berlin, Echoraum Vienna, Liverpool Biennial, Lyd & Litteratur Festival Aarhus, Roulette New York, Sonic Circuits Festival Washington DC, S'Block Festival for advanced music Stuttgart, Festival Bandit' Mages Bourges. In 2011 she was invited by the Italian Cultural Institute Stuttgart to exhibit her work 'Poetophonie' at the Padiglione Italia of the 54th Venice Biennale. She is recipient of awards and residency programs including: Flimmernacht Super8 and Sound Festival Offenburg, Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center New York, Berlin Senate-Cultural Affairs Departement. Since 2010 she's founder with Wendelin Büchler of the ‘vinyl & sound art production Corvo Records’ in Berlin, where she has also co-released the LP 'Popewaffen' and her solo LP 'Come ho imparato a volare'. Besides her solo projects, she has collaborated with many international performers, poets, improvisors and composers like Gino Robair, Ingrid Schmoliner, Tomomi Adachi, Marta Zapparoli, Seiji Morimoto, Steven J. Fowler, Doug Van Nort. Alessandra was trained in classical singing, piano and music theory since an early age, she studied visual art, experimental music and performance art at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts Milan, at the University Ca' Foscari Venice, and at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design.



Wendelin Büchler
Caroline Corrigan
Maurizio Civico
Alessandra Eramo

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