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Allan Hughes: Nagraphobia

Process Room, 28.09.09- 11.10.09

Allan Hughes, Nagraphobia, Process Room, IMMA, 2009  Allan Hughes, Nagraphobia, Process Room, IMMA, 2009

Part of a project that began by examining the role of the recorded voice and the established access to authority of the cinematic voice-over in Alan J. Pakula’s Klute (1971), this work in process presents some audio/visual research into Jane Fonda’s subsequent Radio Hanoi broadcasts of 1972; a series of political statements given in protest against American involvement in the Vietnam war, infractions of the Geneva Convention and the policies of President Nixon’s administration. They were directed primarily towards U.S. soldiers based in Vietnam and were investigated by the U.S. Congress House of Representatives for their effect in undermining confidence amongst soldiers on active duty.

This stage of the work examines the function and effect of remediation on the voice and explores the consequence of establishing the voice as a material position that is extra-linguistic to speech, in opposition to the ideality of meaning. This ideality is, paradoxically, the very thing that Fonda desires in the context of her political objectives. What meaning can therefore be exacted from the remediated and objectified voice in this context, can it still be a political voice? Using Fonda’s recorded and transcribed broadcast as a carrier for the voice, the work sets out by recording the voice of an actor reading from the transcriptions and broadcasting the performance through a virtual video medium. Analogue processes have been exerted upon the audio in an attempt to return the voice to the material condition of a remediating technology in contrast to the virtuality of digital video. Here the avatar in this matrix is the Nagra SN tape recorder; a recording device commissioned by JFK for use by the US intelligence services and the same model that appears in the film Klute.

Hughes’s recent practice has examined the processes and consequential effects apparent in synchronisation within the audio/visual binary, especially that synchronisation best exemplified in the representations and remediations of the voice on screen. He is currently completing a PhD in the University of Ulster, Screening The Voice: Synchronisation, Authority and Duplicity. Further work can be viewed at http://www.allanhughes.com


* Nagraphobia – (from the Polish: nagra, meaning "it will record" and the Greek: φόβος, phóbos, "fear")

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