The Pure Voice – Undoing Gender
The Pure Voice – Undoing Gender

OPN STUDIO: Susana Ballesteros, Jano Montañés
interactive sound installation, 2022

An installation to free one’s voice from normative gender association, to achieve a voice that is gender-neutral or transcends gender, according to one’s perception

Following Judith Butler, the authors propose voice neutralization and its distortion or modulation as a channel for disrupting categories of body, gender, gender roles, and sexuality and an opportunity for their subversive transformation and growth beyond the binary.

For this project, research through diverse biomechanical parameters was conducted in collaboration with El Colegio Profesional de Logopedas de la Comunidad de Madrid. Where feminization, masculinization, and neutralization of the voice through the manipulation of the registered parameters of larynx, the resonators, the length of the throat, and the vocal folds among other anatomical morphologies were given special emphasis.

The project focuses on undoing gender. Because as Judith Butler stated (2006), “Gender is a social construct”. Butler’s claim about gender performativity posits that gender is not naturally assigned but is made up of the acts that mark a person as a “man” or “woman” (dress, mannerisms, etc.). And it is through the repetition of those gendered acts that the illusion of a stable gender identity is created. These acts are reproduced through established norms and controlled by institutional powers that tell us how we should or should not behave as a man and how we should or should not behave as a woman.

The installation uses, as a recode element, something as pure and relative to human beings as water. The water acts as a transmitter medium, purifying and stripping categorizations, showing the human essence. The live voice of the participants passes through it, providing a neutral or fluid essence, and deleting gender bias. The key element “the poetry” is represented by a digital water audio spectrum showing visitor voice interaction.

OPN Studio are Susana Ballesteros and Jano Montañés. Their experimental work during the last decade has explored the intersection between the fields of Art, Science and Technology, being articulated through the language of electronics, robotics, video and interactive installation. Recent shows include NTMOFA Taiwan National Museum of Fine Arts, Würth Museum, LACDA Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Kapelica Gallery, ARS Electronica.