Chain D.L.K. Interview with vox barbara (2001)
CHAIN D.L.K.: Dear Frank, can you explain why did you decide to choose such a particular name for your project? Why you choose to correlate your CDs to someones elses works (the first CD "The Five Senses was based on Anaitre Tellsos' "Ravings of a Madman" novel and this last on the Eldon Chorashan's theory of "Kirlian audio" sound analysis)?
VOX BARBARA: "Vox Barbara" is a latin term, a derisive term I guess, defined by the dictionary as "a barbarous word or phrase; terms which are coined and which are ostensibly New Latin, but which belong to no language..." The idea inherent in the term "vox barbara" is that words "which belong to no language" are somehow inferior because they're not true Latin-based words...which is of course nonsense. It fits what I do, which is build on the remnants of modern society, using its physical (household, industrial) objects to make music which is heretical or subversive to that society. I choose specifically heretical or subversive subjects on which to base my works: Tellsos' novel because it seeks to turn upside down our "rational," genteel conception of the universe and questions the very nature of how we perceive what surrounds us, and Chorashan's software because it totally flies in the face of rational, "scientific" modern thought...you simply aren't supposed to be able to hear the energy of inanimate objects in such a way that they tell you their history! To think that you can do that is somewhat "barbaric," to many people's way of thinking, and I like that.
CHAIN D.L.K.: I read that you first heard mention of Eldon Chorashan's legendary "Kirlian audio" sound analysis software was on a newsgroup in 1993. Can you explain what kind of newsgroup it was and why Chorashan ideas influenced you so much?
VOX BARBARA: There were several newsgroups...alt.conspiracy was a major one. On the one level the idea of objects being encoded with their own sonic histories seemed absurd to me, since I too was raised to be "rational"! But the idea also appealed to me, that every physical object tells a story in sound when properly stimulated or analyzed. We have an expression in American English, "if those walls could talk!"... So I researched the somewhat emotional proclamations I read in the newsgroup further.
CHAIN D.L.K.: What way you decided to follow to approach the "Kirlian Audio" studies to start your work?
VOX BARBARA: Well, first I knew I had to get my hands on the software. After much futile searching via the old search protocol Archie, I came upon it kind of accidentally, on an old "underground" FTP site called Anarchy 'N Explosives. I wasn't sure whether it was all just a hoax...you know, I'm still not, but I like the sounds it comes up with, and the whole concept is still a romantic one to me. After I downloaded the software, I had to learn to use the damn thing...and then finally, I just passed various field recordings through it, and I was quite happy with the results.
CHAIN D.L.K.: On what bases was structured the "Ligea" software you obtained and what was his interface?
VOX BARBARA: It runs on UNIX...beyond that, I'm afraid I really can't go into it. For one thing, I'm really not a technician. I mean, I don't totally understand how Photoshop works, but I use it. Same with this software. For another thing, I must admit I'm still a bit paranoid about this whole supposedly illegal software thing...I don't want the CIA knocking on my door or anything!
CHAIN D.L.K.: You used this software making it interact with different kind of sounds, can you explain to our readers some of your records (if you took notes of the different experiments) or can you tell what happened using different sound sources?
VOX BARBARA: I describe on the liner notes on my website what I *believe* the sounds in various tracks to represent. Am I right? I don't know. There can be many interpretations. On "Electrical Purdah," "Circuit Trance" and "Embedded Controller," knowing these are analyses of the internal sounds of a computer, I hear the pain of the underpaid women who assembled the chips in Malaysia or somewhere. Knowing that the sounds in "Ritual Dissection" come from a Seattle construction site where the noble, solid buildings of the past are being recklessly dismantled to make way for the flimsy, soulless constructions of the 21st Century, I hear the cries of those old stone and brick classic buildings as they give up the ghost. Knowing that "Liver Dance" is made up of sounds from a Cambodian construction site, I hear the moans of those killed by the Khmer Rouge nearby. Someone else could listen to these tracks and hear something totally different.
CHAIN D.L.K.: What do you personally think about the audioluminescence Chorashan's ideas? Do you think it could be possible for the entities passed emotions to leave such a durable trace of themselves?
VOX BARBARA: Sure, I think it's possible. The idea of unlocking the sonic energy in inanimate objects is not only mine, nor Chorashan's. For instance, Michael Prime of the English group Morphogenesis has done similar things using objects, applying various electronic means of stimulation to get them to release their historical energy.
CHAIN D.L.K.: Can you give to our readers some suggests to approach your (DE)CONSTRUCTED GHOSTS CD?
VOX BARBARA: There are several ways to approach it. Simply experience it as dark ambient/noise music, with no preconceptions. Or read the liner notes on the website (which are more extensive than on the CD packaging), consider the title of each track, and try to imagine what kinds of recorded "histories" you might be hearing. Either approach is enjoyable (I hope!); either is valid.