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Douglas Henderson:
On Reflection, 2013

8-channel Sound Work
Text & Voice: MC Jabber
Location: Glass Passageway

On Reflection is an 8-channel electroacoustic work studying a poem and its performance by slam-poet MC Jabber. Composed especially for installation in a glassed-in hallway in Berlin’ Academy of the Arts, the composition uses multichannel soundspace to map out the characteristics of Jabber’s poem “Welcome”. His lightning, almost super-human reading defies literal comprehension, his torrent of words offers rather a psychic sensation of meaning, and swirling waves of phonemes.

Henderson uses this residue of phonetic information to structure the composition: as space, as location and as movement. Words are distributed to speaker locations in the hallway according to their vowel sounds, convolved with one another, and sprayed in dense word-clouds, which are bounced off the large glass surfaces to create a moving 3D sound map. Playing with the paradox of MC Jabber’s language-blurring performance, the piece highlights the poetic images in pure sonic energy, multiplying the voice with audio images, and then spreading the results along the 23 meters of hallway. The encounterer is rarely in a position to hear the entire poem, but instead travels through a stream of multi-hued information, responding to the dynamic of the composition as a form of meaning. The installation allows the poem to transcend language and nationality, to enter a universal forum.


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