landscape & voicescape

voice: i have been thinking about experimenting with some soundscapes and vocal narratives in my video pieces, something integrated into and layering on the visuals. i want to see how the voice responds to the framing of the landscape in some way – either as sound or narrative. for the moment this is occurring in post-production which i will also have to tease out the whys and why nots. production maybe responds to the embodied lens and its framing, and perhaps post-production responds to a manipulation – voice of authority or a play on the experience of that landscape in some way. while doing a bit of research reading on the gendered frame and gaze, i came across some text related to gender and the voice …

Solnit (2001) as eve said to the serpent: the voice and the disembodied voice has the potential to disrupt gendered binary relationships that exist in terms of subject/object, observer/observed, creator/created, immateriality of mind/ physical body and matter. disembodied voice is associated with authoritative objectivity while the embodied voice is associated with subjectivity. Solnit discusses how by grounding voice, this deconstructs the authoritative voice and their gendered histories. Solnit argues, that feminism has undone the hierarchy which gives greater value to those associated with male (objectivity, mind) than those associated with female (subjectivity, matter, body).

diembodied voice: authority, objectivity, creator, observer

embodied voice: subjectivity, material, body, matter

voice and sound as signifier of power: (Helmi Järviluoma, Pirkko Moisala, Anni Vilkko (2004) gender and qualitative methods) another interesting paper came across was an article about the voice being a carrier of gendered hierarchies and how these gendered hierarchies may be projected and heard in sound environments. we not only “learn gender through the total sensorium,” as they put it, gender is also represented, contested and reinforced through the aural. they discuss how soundscapes can help conceptualise spaces as male or female and discuss the ways in which power plays out through sound as agency or passiveness etc – in other words:

voice/sound: signifier of power (passive/active)

voice/sound: conceptualises space as male of female

voice & gender construction: (vocal gender and the gendered soundscape: at the intersection of gender studies and sound studies: gender and the human voice) almost all human voices indicate gender. like the nurture/nature divide, gender in voice is determined by physical biology and also by performative and cultural practice. the disembodied female voice can be seen as a disruption of the female/matter/body hierarchy. but can a voice really be disembodied just because it is not seen? can voice exist without body if it must also be heard through the body.

some experimentation…… putting all this theory to the back of my mind, i returned to the footage of the mountain that i have been using to layer projections and started experimenting with sound first and then narrative. i recorded the video projection to see how sound, voice and narrative might work against this installation and see what this video might suggest.

experiment 1: frame facts as narrative: double voice exposure: i wasn’t sure where to start in terms of text or narrative so i thought i’d begin with some facts about framing the landscape – an objective description of the landscape shots. i doubled the sound by layering 2 on top of each other slightly out of sync, which adds a dreamy stereo chorus to the soundscape. 

experiment 2: frame facts as narrative: double voice exposure using different facts: as a follow on i thought i would see what it sounds like with different facts about its aspect ratio, pixels etc – 16;9 versus 4:3 and 1080/1920 versus 1280/720. sound not quite as stereo as a layered double. there is also a difference in tone – higher and lower which could tap into notions of gender if explored further. 

experiment 3: subjective thoughts as narrative, double soundscape: watched the video and just recorded some thoughts as i watched the video, just a quick and short response without too much thinking – the physical sensation of the body in this place, contemplating a mountain, a landscape.

reflection: there are so many other areas i want to continue to explore in terms of voice and narrative – changing the tone of the vocal sounds – high/low: male/female: tone/depth. i would also like to work with vocal sounds without word meanings and see what happens. i like the random and subjective narrative which might work well interspersed with facts about the framing of this landscape. i think i like the random narrative because of its unpredictability. it might be worth recording the soundscape narrative in situ but there is also something interesting about this disembodied voice with the embodied lens. i also think that the close double echo works best when the voices are close but not close enough …. starting to take shape though.i think the narrative is suggessting scaling the projection image size up for some reason. maybe to fill the space as close to life scale as possible?


Järviluoma, H. Moisala, P. Vilkko, A. (2004) Gender and Qualitative Methods [online blog]  At: (Accessed on 15.01.20).

Solnit, R. (2001) As Eve Said to the Serpent, On Landscape, Gender, and Art. Georgia: University of Georgia Press.

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