Electronic Voice Phenomena       



Posted 22 May 2013 by | Comments Off


This text is a response to the first evening of the Electronic Voice Phenomena tour at Sage, Gateshead, Friday 10th May, featuring performances by Outfit, Hannah Silva, Ross Sutherland, SJ Fowler, Hetain Patel & Richard Milward. 


In the gap between emission and reception there lies a threat to communication. Noise.

A disturbance. A bite. A vibration that leaves indentations on the smooth surface of the event. According to choreography theorist Andre Lepecki,

This is the parasite, the supplementary entropic, the disturbance in the smooth channels of semiotics[...] Parasitic paradigms privilege the fuzzy diagrammatic concatenation of unfoldings in the plane of composition. […] So, we are not receivers, receptors. Instead, we accumulate. And we start to produce, thanks to accumulation. And if we allow the noise to coalesce in the fibrillation of a thought which most of all dares to think, then something quite interesting happens…not by the means of “communication” but by the means of endless, and now, indeed exo-parasitic noisification (Lepecki, 2012).[2]

Lepecki, riffing on Michel Serres’s text, ‘The Parasite’ (1982) formulates a theory of ‘parasitic noisification’. Here, the body in performance is not a stable channel but a stain on the surface of representation. Beyond any communicational imperative, the actioning body affirms an a-semiotic capacity. It is noise amongst the noise of the event of noise, ad infinitum. The body intervenes by making grooves and itinerant channels, by appearing and disappearing in order to activate a disturbance. It is a ‘pest’ (Serres, 1982) and therefore becomes parasitical.

If, as Lepecki provokes, something interesting happens when we abandon the project of communication in favour of ‘fuzzy diagrammatic concatenation’, then this text is obliged to do the same; to be impenetrable. The text wears a set of teeth that cut through stiff channels of one-to-one communication. By licence of accumulation it leaks other ‘stuff’ instead. Unfolding as a string of concatenation’s, it perhaps mis-communicates what was ‘actually’ performed in the event of EVP. It operates on a ‘virtual’ plane of composition made up of partial citations and (personal) association after association after association…

In walks ‘the gent’ with his stick, to the buzzing, dying, dumb frequency of a violin. Naturally he is a wretch. He tells an inward joke of electronic empathy and like depression, his violin descends into noise. The joke resonates like the protraction of a down.

Dead Granddad listens to Pink Floyd in a waking dream where everything is turned into a metaphor for death. It moves us by accident.

Accident. Synchronicity. The Crystal Maze. The Crystal Dome. The Crystal Dome is a Geodesic Dome. A Geodesic Dome begins with a Decagon. Sage Hall 2 is a Decagon. It all adds up. To 10. [3] 

To 1 + 0. Male + Female. The fans in The Crystal Dome blow gold like the hurricane Dorothy rides on her bed.

Dorothy is stuck in Oz. Sandra is stuck in Industrial Cell 23. Disembodied women stuck with disembodied voices. Where are all the women? We are mis-represented on screens, in speakers, in dangerous abstractions. I am Dorothy. I am Sandra. I am absent and therefore a metaphor for death.

A partial disturbance occurs in the relationship between Dead Granddad and Dead Dad and becomes Dead Dada. The death of Granddad, the death of Dad, the death of Dada. All sleeping, surreally like Dada Desnos, poster boy of surrealist sleeps.

Robert Desnos stole Duchamp’s female alter ego, ‘Rose Sélavy’. Rose is an abstraction, a ghost woman, stolen and worn like a mask. I hear a man with a Middlesborough accent talk and it is specific. We mourn the loss of the provincial. I hear him speak about wet spray and ejaculation at women. I exercise my own mental hygiene and wonder why it became so erotic.

I taste your stink. Your false impressions. Your voice over my voice under. Deep undercover with a series of words and gestures not your own but embodied nonetheless. Do I speak English?We speak through disease, through transmission, through bodies. We take elegant ideas for a walk with grace, like the choreographer.

The religious betrayal of an uncommunicable thought becomes the suicide of an idea. A woman’s voice, again, trapped and speaking in reverse. Where are all the women? We are mis-represented on screens, in speakers. We promenade in dangerous backward abstractions.

A woman called Total Man Stan was a psychologist and paranormal researcher. She used bowls, and mirrors, and lamps and water to speak convincingly of the dead; of the Neanderthals who were ruled by women. A cautionary tale {like the vagina dentata} written in left-hand {like the latin ‘sinestra’, like the political left}.

I am Dorothy on the bed in a hurricane. I am Sandra in the maze failing her task. I am absent and therefore a metaphor for death. There is a big bear at the back of every stage.

Writer Bio

Victoria Gray is an artist and writer based in York, UK. Her solo performance work has been performed nationally and internationally and her writing has been published in peer-reviewed journals and books on subjects ranging from performance, post-punk and sculpture. Her performance work explores the transmission of affect and audio bio-feedback in performance. Victoria is Senior Lecturer in the School of Performance, Faculty of Arts, York St John University and a PhD candidate at Chelsea College of Art & Design, London. She is co-founder of O U I Performance (York) with artist Nathan Walker.

Website: www.victoriagray.co.uk


1 - Referencing Hannah Silva's performance.
2 - http://www.newyorklivearts.org
3 - 10 is also divisible by 5, hence the 'Law of Fives' which is also related to the 23 enigma. The EVP event happened on the 10th day of the 5th month of the year and on a Friday which is the 5th day of the week. ]


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