Disembodied voices. Ethereal messages. The Uncanny Valley hypothesis. Thank god for Mercy.

This weekend, Mercy holds its always-anticipated Biennial event. And, as ever, it sounds deliciously intriguing – fusing of-the-moment hauntologically inspired sounds with the ever-fascinating subject of EVP: ghostly voices glimpsed at the edge of your auditory awareness.

Is anybody there? We spoke with master of ceremonies, Nathan Jones…

What’s Happening?

We’re holding a weekend of workshops, performances and new commissions delving into the art and science of EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena). Though experimental language, hauntology, and human vocals emerging from the interference of machines, we’re presenting a Think Tank: investigating this most electrifying of questions: where will the collaboration of electronics on the human voice take us?

We promise lots of opportunities for creative thinking and experimenting on this theme, as well as the chance to experience some of the most exciting practitioners in action.

Why Should We Come?

Language and performance is our medium. It’s what fascinates and propels us. Of how the intersection of human and machine can often take you to a place you really weren’t expecting. For instance, it’s amazing how the most ancient forms of singing, such as Tuvan throat singers (practiced for thousands of years, way up in the Arctic Circle), actually sounds so close to highly processed electronic, robot vocals.

There’ll be world premieres of new pieces – including one by Scanner, one of the most exciting sound artists of our time, out-there poetry from Mercy favourite Steven Fowler, and glitched and processed auditory phenomenon from Iris Garrelfs, whose work suggests a kind of siphoning-off of sonic nerve impulses, using her voice as raw material.

Oh, and come if you want to see someone bench-pressing while delivering a new piece of writing.

Amazing Art Fact

The vocoder, that staple voice processor, so popular in 70’s recordings (from ELO to Kraftwerk) that electronically mimics human speech, actually started life as a military device, built by Bell Labs engineers in 1943, and used for encrypted high-level voice communications during World War II. Which Horace Wimp might find interesting.

Any Special Dates?

The World Premiere performance works, in conjunction with Deep Hedonia, featuring Scanner, Iris Garrelfs, Steven Fowler & Ben Morris starts at 8pm on Saturday 6 October, at Hi-Fi (formerly Binary Cell), 40 Seel Street. For more information on the weekend’s other events, check Mercy’s website.

Your Biennial in Seven Words

Human voices gorgeously corrupted by the interface

Mercy EVP Weekend
5-7 October
Various venues

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