Cling-Clang-Cornelius: Digital Sound Poetry as Embodied Posthumanism

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Abstract (in English): 

Starting from the problematic gap between the unicity of the human voice and the socio-cultural variables that are unavoidably attached to her expressions, this presentation proposes the phenomenon of ‘sound poetry’ as paradigmatic bridge between a biological reality and its posthuman condition. The underlying reasoning harks back to media artist and philosopher Norie Neumark’s remark that sound poetry like no other mode of artistic expression “stimulates reflection on the uncanny and complicated relation between embodiment, alterity, and signification” (2010). Most notably the appropriation and – literal – embodiment of electronic technologies in digital sound poetry has recently yielded a new dynamic to the performativity of poetic composition. With today’s technical possibility to sample and mediate minimal acoustic nuances in the here-and-now we are allowed a glimpse into the supplement of meaning generated by the meeting between text/script and voice/sound. Such post-human amplification of an intrinsically arch-human act accordingly finds its broader relevance broadside conventional aesthetic standards. 

The ‘meta-pop’ of Japanese musician/sound poet Cornelius (°1969) marks a case in point by weaving together digital samples and loopings of ‘live’ vocalisations into a musical-seeming texture from which nonetheless no melodies seem discernable – or at least no recognizable ones. The result however is not entirely estranging, and this not in the least because the artist putatively plays on a continual cognitive oscillation between the referential frames ‘music,’ ‘performance,’ ‘text,’ and ‘technology.’ Bearing in mind Neumark’s aforementioned relational model, Cornelius’s sound poetry with its idiosyncratic explorations of digital signification arguably generates a genuine soundtrack for a posthuman condition.

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Carlos Muñoz