documentation excerpt (2’30”), The Oral Logic, Pari Nadimi Gallery, Toronto, CA, 2019.
This project is an assemblage of four multimedia installations, an artist multiple and a live performance that expands The Oral Logic thread out of my extensive research on the poetics and politics of human-machine coupling.
Turning the gaze inward on bodily systems, the installations are conceptualized using the cannibalistic metaphor of “eating and being eaten” to contemplate our dialectic relationships with technology. We, as bio-cultural-technological amalgams, have always merged our mental activities with the operations of technologies. In this sense, writing can be considered a technology we use to make sense of ourselves and the world as it reconfigures our consciousness.
Having entered the electronic landscape, we, as consumers and feeders, devour, chew, digest and absorb the electronic culture in all domains. From eating to speaking, from the molecular to the epistemological, our body and psyche are subject to the cybogian economy, where massive networks that are mobilized by planetary computation show affective and cognitive agencies. In these contexts, The Oral Logic asks, “to what extent would this symbiosis evolve?”
The four installations interweave The Oral Logic as if our minds already operate as silicon-carbon intelligence hybrids. In this presentation, I will focus on unfolding one of the installations, Garrulous Guts.
two-channel animation, subwoofers, clear gelatin capsules, anti-biotics, anti-estrogen hormone, air ducts, generative algorithmic composition in collaboration with Jason Doell
Garrulous Guts sits at the centre of the space, pumping low-frequency sounds that activate the animated digestive system mapped with malleable texts. The metaphor of cannibalism in Brazilian literature and translation theory offers ways to rethink cultural assimilation in colonial and post-colonial conditions. Borrowing the same idea to think about technological incorporation, I blend industrial wastes with active chemicals and propose “vomit as a method” to redefine and reclaim human agencies in hyper-control societies. In the sound design of this installation, I trained WaveNet with a dataset of English conversations that I discovered in ESL textbooks. Due to inadequate time training, the results are glitched, stuttered, and sometimes unrecognizable English speech sounds. I then fed all the samples into an aleatory algorithm made by my collaborator to create a never-ending generative composition.
In the performance, I made use of microphone feedback to create dense layers of abstract drones, on top of which I improvised with my voice and electronics.
“Through intentional collaboration with machines, Ye recoups agency. A low-frequency crackling permeated the small room of “The Oral Logic,” part of a generative music score like ASMR but in a register of minor terror. The score popped and rumbled from two subwoofers, one upturned to hold empty and half-filled clear pill capsules in its speaker. Corrugated air ducts twisted around this installation — collectively titled Garrulous Guts (2019) — as physical stand-ins for its eponymous organs. An accompanying projection animated intestines in cyber blue and dusky pink, mapped with texts from translation theory, which wormed their outsides and innards through the viewer’s gaze.”— Joy Xiang, “Review: Xuan Ye – The Oral Logic” (Canadian Art, 2020)
“In the centre of the space, the two-channel sound and animation installation, Garrulous Guts (2019), wraps around an entanglement of air ducts. The work’s audio was created through a collection of sound footage from online searches for “people vomiting” and speech clips generated by WaveNet, a feedforward neural network for generating advanced Text-to-Speech results. While the speech was trained in English, that was not what was heard emanating from the installation. Ye created new speech that were, quasi-English, which were then interpreted into sounds that didn’t make sense to English-speaking viewers or would even register as a recognized human-based language, potentially creating a new human-machine hybrid language. Despite its mechanical and cryptic tone, the soundtrack held some familiarity in structure and pace for my auditory sense to digest as dialect.”— Emily Fitzpatrick, “Review: Xuan Ye – The Oral Logic” (Peripheral Review, 2020)