CONTENTS Glossolalia 8

J. Lehmus

Echo torrentis

Recollections on the "Echo" installation

I wanted to visualize her body and regenerate her voice.

If her body turned to earth, to stone, how could I bring it back in flesh? Or shadow, even. Some intermediate stage between the dead and the animate.

Maybe the transmutation of flesh to stone could be simulated, and animate stone could be obtained in that way.

I decided to solidify the movement of rapidly flowing water. Semianimate movement seen in dreams. Muybridge's girls with water buckets.

My method of video manipulation. First shoot 30 minutes of flowing water; the sky and trees reflecting from the surface. Play it back slowly, two frames per second. Shoot a new recording directly from the TV screen. New waves caused by the CRT surface. Then copy again in a similar manner. Rotate. Discard the color information.

Now, the fluctuating reflections themselves seemed to be more solid, with clearly defined outlines around the edges. Edge detection. This was Echo's body, breathing.

Had the movement of water become more or less material?

Take any direction out of the normal. Pick up anything you find there and render it visible in human terms. These are matters of seeing, and the problem is with the eyes and the brain, the human apparatus.

I quote from a paper discussing automatic edge detection:

Edge finding may seen easy to the reader because human vision extracts useful edge information in the presence of a variety of disturbances. However, it seems from the work of Hubel and Wiesel that the retina may do the work of edge abstraction before the visual information is even presented to the brain. So it may be that the problem of edge recognition eludes human awareness: Because the edges already seem "to be there," we may be led to underestimate the difficulties of the problem. (M.H. Hueckel, An operator which locates edges in digitized pictures)
Then the voice. Create a sound that has no definite source. Or is coming from thin air. Or earth.

Echo's body turned to earth and her voice dispersed in air, like a homeopathic medicine.

Bird song, poor Syrinx.

Echo had a daughter with Pan: Iynx. My initial intention had been to invoke Iynx instead of Echo. I decided in favor of Echo as the word has a common meaning in modern English and thus wouldn't be rejected as obscure, like Iynx might have been. Echo is banal. Pan himself is banal.

Capture environmental sound.

Maybe Echo's own voice exists, but cannot be heard by human ears? Radio waves? Electromagnetic voice?

Glossolalia 8: Copyright © 1996 J. Lehmus. All individual works Copyright © 1996 by their respective authors. All further rights to works belong to the authors and revert to the authors on publication.