Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Fragile Virtuosity: The Human Voice at the Center of Performance and Technology
Michelle Kasprzak
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
Université du Québec à Montréal
Thesis Supervisor
Éric Raymond
Supervisor e-mail
raymond.eric AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Kim Sawchuk, Gisèle Trudel
Language(s) of Thesis
English (with a French summary)
Department / Discipline
Visual and Media Art
Languages Familiar to Author
English, French
URL where full thesis can be found
voice, performance, speech, error, repetition, devotion, perfection, virtuosity, falconry, Stenomask
Abstract: 200-500 words
This paper describes the human characteristics of devotion and repetitive action, and how they relate to the performative use of the voice in relation to technology. Also expressed are the particularities of the Stenomask voice-silencing device that is at the heart of my performances, and its legacy as a device in courts of law. Through examples that span the Bible, the legal system, falconry, and mythology, I illustrate that obsessive devotion to a task, though it indicates a desire for perfection, does not achieve it - instead, the creator develops a technique by which the smallest resonances between iterations of a performance sing with significance. The variances between performance iterations may result from human errors, but I argue that instead of being discarded, they may become crucial material for the study of both performance methodology, and our expectations of the technologies that are increasingly present as an integral part of the creative process. Described in this paper are my performances utilizing the Stenomask to deliver lectures on aspects of verbal communication and the poetics of repetition. These lectures are processed by the computer, and based on its limited understanding of my voice, it produces a text in real time that provides a flawed text transcription of my lecture for an audience. Simultaneously, a recorded voice reads the original text of the lecture aloud. This text reveals the difficulties that the computer has in interpreting my voice, as well as my own flaws as a human user that is prone to inconsistencies. Each performance, in a way, is research – into the methods by which I can engage with the technology that has been created by humans in our own image.