eMotiVe sOuNDs of the eLEctRic wRiTEr
(project commissioned by the Jeu du Paume 2013-15)

“A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping.”-Catherine Field

Electronic letters are immensely convenient and links people across the world, destroying in an instant the hurdle of geography that confronts snail mail. Now that e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and other ways to stay in touch have taken center stage, writing letters, postcards, thank you notes, or even invitations is rare in the twenty-first century. But will they ever be as richly humane as the handwritten letter, as redolent of a particular personality? Writing expressive or poetic letters have greatly reduced and since we communicate by e-mail, we say things that are neither deep nor profound. My suspicion is that in a world where we are constantly chatting and tweeting, very little is actually being said. Will good written communication skills die off, leaving the rest of us thumbing abbreviations and smileys on handhelds? Will effortless random access erode our collective respect for writing as a logical, linear process? Reading successive pages and chapters teaches us how to follow a sustained line of reasoning. With a constant fast paced introduction of abbreviated terms being introduced will the simple pleasure of language be lost? Will people have any use for a signature because everything is being conducted electronically?

My focus particularly would be in the loss of writing personal letter. In the project “Emotive sounds of the electric writer” different participants from different parts of the world would be encouraged to write hand written letters.These letters will be part of a performance where a machine would be mimicking these hand-written letters on a long scroll of paper. The machine while printing often stops to think when given complex information. This thinking is recorded by the pen blotting into the paper and leaving a score like impression throughout the scroll. Inspired by John Cages “chance score”, this score which will emerges from the process will be translated into sounds by musicians and then composed into a sound piece. The blots also make the score visually less mechanistic and bridges the gap to a future where technology and humanistic characters blend without loosing one for the other.

Simultaneously the US Postal System progressing towards a partial shutdown with 15 billion dollars in borrowing from the government, one can’t help contemplate the impact of technology and the slow disappearance of the tactile human imprint in personal communication. There are a lot of questions, but that’s not to say that the skill involved and the pleasure to be found in handwriting a card or note—not to mention the pleasure of receiving such a missive—have disappeared. Perhaps “Letter of Love” would re kindle the passion of writing. The sacred and comforting practice of writing by hand doesn’t have to be a lost custom.

WHO THESE LETTERS COULD BE WRITTEN TO AND BASIC GUIDELINES FOR LETTER WRITING:
A hand written letter which communicates with love is the vision. With Love we write these letters to transform, to envision, to thank, to mediate, to empower, to give joy, to surrender to beauty, to show compassion and you are more than welcome to give meanings than even ‘Love ‘ can imagine. Letter is a dialogue between two people where the protagonist chosen could be anyone from a person, super hero, to the govt, multinational company, issues like -feminism, gender, ecology…etc.It is picking up any topic under the sun and giving it a character and having a discussion with it. This is your story and platform for creativity and how you negotiate with this space is pretty open as long as you say it with love and empathy. It is saying things with words, articulating emotions, perhaps saying it poetically, perhaps with beauty, perhaps with humor, perhaps with sensitivity, perhaps with irony……but diving into deep issues that we care about and using this as a platform of expression. It is geared towards emotional intelligence, communication skills and consciousnesses raising(i.e if you choose to use it in that direction). I perhaps almost would desire you to be an emotional scientist which breaks down and explores a situation and communicates complex things simply.Poems could be a part of this and can be used to further elucidate what is being said but cannot be the whole structure. Maximum two pages long with signature.

Process:

THE LETTERS ARRIVE:


THE DRAWING/WRITING MACHINE AT IT’S JOB:
The letters are then scanned and converted into vector lines which the drawing/writing machine understands. I then have to tweak the parameters for each handwriting to make sure the machine understands and writes it like a human.

THE SCROLL AS A SCORE:
Instructions provided to the musicians to play the score:
the way score would be more or less traditional
time – left to right
pitch – low to high
dynamic – thickness, size of graphs
density – amount of actions, density
timbre – inspired by graph
emotions- inspired by the letters provided as sample, consider it a landscape of thoughts
Genre- minimal
(The online score was sent to all musicians and in order to coordinate the love frequency-528hz has been overlaid on the score)

SOUND COMPOSED OF THE SCORE:

Kari Rae Seekinks- The performances of each the musicians flowed freely in between syncing into the initial instructions to follow the dots on the score, to stay in a complementary key to 528Hz and improvising through the heart. In assembling the interpretations of the different musicians I also followed the same instincts, assembling each piece into a cohesive whole by following the dots on the score at times, but also letting the original flow of each musician’s performance stay true and follow the emotional tone of the different handwriting of each letter. The pure tone of 528Hz rings throughout the composition as an constant drone.

CREDITS

SOUND DESIGN: Kari Rae Seekins

MUSICIANS:
Hideaki Tokunaga | Jon Armstrong | Jake Charkey | Mynah Marie | Prasheen Lodhia

LETTER WRITERS:
Avni Doshi | Sarnath Banerjee | Robin Sukhadia |Jon Armstrong | Bharti Lalwani | Pierre Friquet | Mae Karthauser | Gitanjali Dang | Sande Cohen | Masha Vasilkovsky | Veerangana Solanki | Stine Marie Jacobsen | Soazic Guezennec | Odin L. L. McEvoy | Verena Pagnes | Andrea Pagnes | Akanksha Krishnani | Elise Foster Vander Elst | Diana Campbell Betancourt | Tara Kaushal | Brian House | Mathieu Gugumus Leguillon | Anjli Vyas | Prasheen Lodhia | Troy Innocent | Anna Evans | Denise Batchelor | Ramesh Nair | Praveen Kumar | Rachita Kumar | Deepika Sorabjee | Deborah White | Laura Stancanelli | Resham Premchand | Zeroluna | Saurabh Tak | Meenakshi Thirukode | Liane Lang | Gaurav Singh | Armando Miguélez Giambruno | Juan Ernesto Requena | Eva Njoki Munyiri | Moises Jimenez | Juande | Dee wood

About

Nandita Kumar is a new media artist who works in varied mediums to create immersive environmental spaces.

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