Six-channel sound installation
The sound of a voice appears from a low velour-clad platform inviting you to step onto it. Try standing between the loudspeakers and listen or sitting down on the soft fabric and allow yourself to drift off with the reflections expressed by the voice.
The voice heard in the sound installation Within My Voice is the artist’s own. While preparing for her work, the Danish artist Marie Thams worked with a voice coach specialised in how to radiate drive, assertiveness, and professional openness via the voice. More than twenty-five different vocal training techniques were tested and recorded and the result is presented here in the finished work of art. The voice envelops you, fluctuating between insisting, explorative, raw, and quietly whispering. The voice talks, for example, about the working human being and wanting to break with the streamlining of voice and body that goes on in our effectivity-oriented society.
The work addresses how the voice is used as an instrument to navigate between inner life and external expectations, between labour market demands and the qualities inherent in the human subject. As a sound artist, Marie Thams uses her voice as her primary instrument, often examining what impact our voice has on our surroundings and how we present ourselves professionally.
Textile and four-channel sound installation
The work it’s an Airy Feeling (This Promise of Promotion) comprises sound and, to set the mood, an atmospheric element of airy wings flowing from the ceiling like fleeting elements, moving with the air stream in the gallery space. The work’s accompanying soundtrack is played in the amphitheatre in the museum’s sculpture park in the open where natural wind blends in with the illusory voice-induced windscape and speech making up the sound composition.
The work addresses what the artist experiences as incessant promises of promotion gushing forth in public and political speeches, manifesting themselves as insistent market-oriented self-regulation. The voice in the sound element addresses the prevailing logic of speculative economic strategies attempting to optimise tomorrow’s increased profit while, on the other hand, encouraging us to create a collective, airborne formation together – a call of intermingling wings and sound.
The sculptural wings are scaled-up versions of the wings of an arctic tern. According to the artist, the arctic tern is one of the most industrious birds to visit Denmark during its annual migration. In the course of its long life, the bird flies a distance corresponding to the moon and back three times over. Along with the image of this bird’s indefatigable work rhythm, the wings also serve as a metaphor for wanting to take off and float in the wind, freed from the paradigm of growth.
The works address political and physical voices, examining sound as sensory material and how voice and language express and also shape our experience of life. Marie Thams is interested in how the labour market’s constant self-optimisation demands affect the human voice and body, including our experience of a ‘here and now’ and intimacy with other people.
It is said that fine feathers make fine birds, but the voice, although more inconspicuous than ‘fine feathers’, is also a powerful element when encountering other people. The voice represents the subject wanting to deliver a message and is linked to a specific body and ditto life experience.
A voice can have decisive clout on the competitive labour market. Vocal training is among recent offers in the continuous self-development trend – also on the labour market. Our acceleration and performance culture places heavy demands on the individual for self-optimisation, productivity, and enhanced performance. We are required to constantly self-optimise, develop, and learn in order to perform optimally. Is this where the dividing line between working life and private life cease to exist? Is that a good or a bad thing? The works provide no answers, but merely highlight the problem.