Fashioning the Voice

“THIS TECHNOLOGICALLY ENABLED TRENCH COAT IS MORE LIKE A TECHNICOLOUR DREAM COAT, A FIGMENT OF YOUR IMAGINATION SPUN INTO REAL LIFE, A RAINBOW OF POSSIBILITY THAT STRETCHES FROM YOUR BODY TO THE REST OF THE WORLD.”

Writer Mary Paterson, December 2020

The second video provides more background from the project development and concept, with interviews from Yvon and Jennifer
 

Fashioning the Voice is an interdisciplinary arts project developed in collaboration by Jennifer Anyan, Yvon Bonenfant and Tychonas Michailidis. It is a singing trench coat exploring self-identity through how we fashion ourselves, how we fashion our voice and how the two influence each other.

We have just finished an R&D phase of the project, which was supported by Arts Council England and Solent University. This support has enabled us to test the coat with different participants, refine the garment design and work towards planning a final production template.

The project like so many was affected by Covid-19 and until the pandemic has eased the project is on hold.

We predict that after the crisis there will be huge appetite for artwork that involves voice and contact allowing people to imagine alternative futures for themselves, their bodies and their expressive power.

 Read a critical text by Mary Paterson.

Background context

Fashioning the Voice began in 2016 emerging out of conversations between initial collaborators Jennifer Anyan and Yvon Bonenfant who set out to explore synergies between their practices. Anyan’s work explores embodiment and experiences of fashioning the body whereas Bonenfant’s work is preoccupied with how we style the voice. These early conversations and explorations focussed on practical connections between these two situated bodily practices. As the project developed Tychonas Michailidis joined the collaboration bringing his expertise in the application of haptic technologies, daring music composition and versatile coding. His interests as an artist and researcher connect into the project through hand gestures and the way they interactively and creatively control and manipulate the artistic outcome.

Artistic ideas

The voice emerges from our vibrating vocal folds, and then our responsive and malleable vocal tract sculpts the sounds that emerge. This process is dependent on a wide range of variables such as: biological, emotional, cultural and contextual and as such, it is ever in flux, under a strange combination of conscious control, unconscious learned habits, physical limitations and potentials – we do fashion our sound – even if we are oblivious to ourselves doing it. 

Fashioning the Voice amplifies the ‘fashioning’ process. The singing coat ‘makes’ voice, shapes voice, and projects voice; it literally vibrates with voice. It echo’s and resonates with the agency we choose to use, shape and move in clothing – grounding it in a dialogue between the ‘biological’ (or more fixed) aspects of embodiment and the tactile, visual and choreographic qualities of clothing. Using ‘voiced’ clothing we stage identity and mark a marginal space that can be played with (Kaiser 2001).

We are looking for visual art and fashion partners to work with us to develop Fashioning the Voice further. Will you come with us and explore “who we might be tomorrow”?

For further information please visit: 

https://www.tractandtouch.com/fashioning-the-voice

To read my guest blog post for UCL's In Touch Research Centre that explores what we learned about touch through Fashioning the Voice, please visit:

https://in-touch-digital.com/2021/06/29/fashioning-the-voice-a-singing-trench-coat-that-shows-how-clothes-touch-us-in-more-ways-than-you-think/

For contextual and academic references please visit:

https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/551062/551063

Jennifer was invited to speak at the IFFTI conference about Fashioning the Voice here: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDk8yiERiV8&t=299s