This Person Does Not Exist (2023)
11 minutes - for ensemble & electronics
Performed by Wavefield Ensemble - March 25, 2023 - New York, USA.
Nicholas DeMaison, conductor
Roberta Michel, flutes
Madison Greenstone, bass clarinet
John Gattis, horn
Jen Baker, trombone & 3D-printed vocal tract tube
Dennis Sullivan, percussion
Erica Dicker, violin
Carrie Frey, viola
Iva Casián-Lakoš, cello
Tristan Kasten-Krause, bass
Recorded by David Adamcyk
Mastered by Murat Çolak http://www.muratcolakmusic.com/geryon...
Filmed by Michael Sinicropi
Edited by Stuart Breczinski
DiMenna Center for Classical Music
The term "disembodied voice," much like Alice's "grin without a cat," poses an inherent ontological problem. The voice, which is typically produced as a result of purely material processes, now exists detached from its physical source and becomes the sole manifestation of our human essence. Despite the present impossibility, however, our psyche seems to be able to close this gap rather easily.
Being our primary medium for language and expression, the voice can readily function as a portal between our corporeal existence and whatever we might choose to call the rest: a soul, a consciousness, or a persona. The voice can be a placeholder for all the latter, as made apparent in phrases such as “one’s inner voice,” “the artist’s voice,” or “making one’s voice heard.” It is for this reason that disembodied voices have commonly been used to represent human-like entities in many works of fiction, ranging anywhere between ghostly presences to super-intelligent AIs.
“This Person Does Not Exist” was titled after the website with the same name, through which Nvidia’s neural network StyleGAN can be used to generate human faces. While the original website reproduces artificiality through AI generated images, I wanted to approach the same uncanny possibility by creating the semblance of a disembodied voice. For this purpose, I designed and 3D printed a small instrument that models the human vocal tract with a trombone mouthpiece attachment. The trombonist, who remains concealed behind the suspended frame drum at the center of the stage, performs this instrument to produce human-like sounds ranging from soft moans to loud, distorted screams. With the use of both pre-recorded and live performances of this instrument, I wish to elicit the presence of a disembodied, artificial voice, and thus underline the reproducible nature of our own human essence.
Art: Yugo Kohrogi