Vox 13

  • Peter Rose |
  • 1982-2000 |
  • 118 minutes |
  • COLOR |
Sale Format(s): DVD

Some thoughts about VOX:

Taken in the aggregate, Vox 13 offers a grand circumnavigation of the subject of language. By turns it is a reflexive riff on reading, a hyperdimensional performance piece about gesture, a horror story told by a computer, an opera about the voice, a documentary on the transience of language, a metanarrative about the elements of story, an Edenic parable, a kinetic koan, an arch ideological satire, a joke about semiotics, a materialist metaphor, and a performance piece about communication. The opus considers what it means to read, what it means to listen, when it is that we speak, how words acquire meaning, what it means to write, who we listen to, how we listen, what speaks, other ways we can speak, what the voice is, where language can be found, what words do to time, what holds stories together, and how light shapes language. There are reflections on time and language and there are explorations of the places where speech and power seem to intersect. I offer a nod to Tom Phillips' "A Humument," the Firesign Theatre, the Four Horseman, Sid Caesar, early Woody Allen, Julian Jaynes, the Sackners, W. H. Hudson, sehtraB dnaloR, and Ludwig Wittgenstein who, in one of his more jovial moments, announced that "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." Much of this work is a voluble illustration of that dictum.

VOX 13
1982 - 2000
Peter Rose

Siren (1990, 14 min.) is a 14 min. two-channel work that proposes an "operatic" rendering of W.H.Hudson's "Green Mansions," a strange tale about journeys in the jungle, mysterious voices, and metaphysical tongues. The sound track is entirely vocal, a collaborative effort by David Moss and Peter Rose, with Jessie Jane Lewis and Anya Rose, and the computer-animated text/libretto was generated on an early MacIntosh computer. The work premiered as a two-channel performance at the New Music America Festival in 1988 in Miami, was performed in Paris in 1989, and was installed as a two-channel laser disc installation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1990.

" ...poetry of the ear, delightful voice games of timbre, repetition and mis-reading that toss the fulsome text into a succulent, auditory fruit salad....packed with wit and audio-visual puns, the performance equivalent of giving your eyes and ears a Swiss needle shower. "
Laurie Horn, Miami-Herald

Genesis (1988, 4 min. single channel video installation) recounts a story about embodiment "told" using voice synthesis and animation display on a MacIntosh computer. It was installed at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia in 1991. A computer is swaddled in blankets in a small baby carriage. A text appears on the screen that tells the (true) story of a woman who miscarries and keeps the fetus in her refrigerator. The narration is artificial, generated by a speech synthesis program. This voice becomes more human as the story evolves and as our understanding of the power of naming sharpens.

"..... is a very unsettling work that raises difficult questions about technology, virtual communication, ethics, and psychology. In its understated way, it is a horror film that manages to play cognitive games with the viewer while interrogating the construct of presence itself ."
.- Joyce Beamer, Protuberon

The Gift (1993, audio drama, 6 min.) was commissioned by New American Radio and Performing Arts and was adapted from a serial bedtime story Rose told his daughter over a period of six years. It is a parable that explores the conflict between language and innocence, and between sounds and ideas, and that offers an insight into the connections between time, language, and self.

"Old radio drama....fanciful, parabolic.....wonderful sound metaphors in the service of a ontological fable ripped from the Bible..." - Milton Reskin, private correspondance

Foit Yet Cleem Triavith (1987, 2 min.) (an anagram for "The Verticality of Time") uses a text about the nature of time, perverse visual quotations from art history, and vocal improvisation by David Moss and Peter Rose to generate a kind of rap video. Presented at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts as part of the Art Now exhibition; at School 33 in Baltimore; and at the Obscure Gallery in Quebec.

" Provocative juxtapositions of text to image, image to image, and text to text..evoke something of time's elusive nature...a poetic and multilayered investigation... " - Paula Marincola, Artforum

Digital Speech (1984, 13 min) uses a traveler's anecdote, a perverse variant of a classic Zen parable, as a vehicle for an exploration of language, thought, and gesture. The tape plays with the nature of narrative, with ways of telling, performing, and illustrating, and uses nonsense language, scat singing, and video rescan for comic comment. Gesticulation is by percussionist Jim Meneses.

"Rose has here taken on one of the classic semiotic propositions and plays several simultaneous riffs on it, using meta-cinematic tactics in the service of a wry sense of humor. That he manages to invest the whole business with a cartooned irony only underscores the reflexive nature of his gambit." - Perlman, Rotomontage 5

Secondary Currents (1982, 16 min.) is a film about the relationships between the mind and language. Delivered by an improbable narrator who speaks an extended assortment of nonsense, it is an "imageless" film in which the shifting relationships between voice-over commentary and subtitled narration constitute a peculiar duet for voice, thought, speech, and sound. A kind of comic opera, the film is a dark metaphor for the order and entropy of language. Percussion is by Jim Meneses.

" The particular self-reflexivity of this passage (of the film) and its incarnation of spaces that surround the literal and imaginative frame with which conventional film action occurs may represent those worlds of cinema- the "two avant-gardes" Peter Wollen describes- that by the end of the sixties were critiquing domestic and foreign film experiences from within the theater."
- Scott MacDonald, Screen Writings

SpiritMatters (1984, 6 min.) is a silent monologue on the simultaneous perception of space and time. The film was constructed without a camera by writing directly on clear celluloid, and then "translated" by refilming the resulting strips on a light table so that they appear as "subtitles" beneath the original inscription. The film functions as both process and object-an interactive experiment in reading, writing, and seeing.

"Rose's work continues to push at the boundaries of perception. Unlike "The man who could not see far enough," which rhapsodizes the fusion of vision with space, "SpiritMatters" celebrates and interrogates a seeing beyond time, offering an almost comic structural metaphor for our inability to imagine death."
- Thelma Hayek, The Abyss of Becoming

Metalogue (1996, 3 min.) has been described as a cross between a "speech" and a "fireworks display." Digital editing techniques have been used to reflect and refract a monolog about memory, time, and language.

"By embedding the gestures of a hyperdimensional speech in a dynamic diachronic array, Rose succeeds in creating a new form of poetry"
- Cass Quamontes, The Ogilvy-Mannheim Review

The Pressures of the Text (1983, 17 min) integrates direct address, invented languages, ideographic subtitles, sign language, and simultaneous translation to investigate the feel and form of sense, the shifting boundaries between meaning and meaninglessness. A parody of art/critspeak, educational instruction, gothic narrative, and pornography, it has been performed as a live work at major media centers and new music festivals in the US and Europe. The piece was written, directed and delivered by Peter Rose; co-directed by Jessie Lewis; with sign language and ideographic symbols by Jessie Lewis; and with English simultran by Fred Curchack. The work was featured in the 1985 Whitney Biennial.

" ..fast, witty, and relentless..vigorously and accurately deflates academic pretensions. "
- Helen De Michiel, Afterimage

" Rose's terrific sense of humor and genius at timing make him a cross between an intellectual Eddie Murphy and an old-time vaudeville comedian with a Ph.D. "
- Ann-Sargent Wooster, Afterimage

" This acute and logical parody of newspeak of every kind bites, like Ouroboros, its own tail. "
- Erik Daams, Worldwide Video Festival

" As Rose sits before his tape deck, gathering dust and harvesting confusion, he ponders the way a word can seem both phenomenological and polemically encoded, and The Pleasures of the Text takes on the character of a deconstructivist 'Krapp's Last Tape.' "
- Jay Carr, Boston Globe

Understory (1997, 8 min.) Described as a cross between "a ceremony and an incantation", the work presents us with a story-like skein of images that suggest the journey of a figure that walks in water, the speech of fire, and the mystery of vision. Understory was originally commissioned as a performance work by the American Music Theatre Festival

"Clavid.......mirasmous.......... the.......apostrophes of dimension......moot." - Nombu64

Babel (1987, 17 min.) uses processed voices, generic babble, kinetic texts, and misleading film and video images to link the linguistic implications of a third nostril to the Tower of Babel and the Strategic Defense Initiative. The tape offers a critique of language as a source of authority and as a form of technology. It was presented at the Polyphonix Festival in Paris, at the New Music America Festival in Philadelphia, at the National Video Festival in Los Angeles, and at the World Music Days festival in Cologne, W. Germany.

" Rose is the Andy Kaufman of avant-garde movies, a filmmaker-performer who speaks in tongues to make us hear English with a clear ear. Babel is a hybrid of The Outer LImits and SCTV in which Rose bravely diagrams the language of politics and the politics of language. "
- Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer

" The most compelling piece in the (National Video) festival...a work of efficacious political art which is also sensuously luscious and rich in ironic humor. "
- Christine Tamblyn, Afterimage

The Darkening (2000, 8 min) is a requiem, a Stygian night journey animated by unknown languages, illuminated speech, and mysterious conjugations of light. The video is animated by the idea that if language is to give some shape to thought, it is language as invocation, rather than denotation, that we must consider, and from consequent experiments with a form of performative image-making that integrates speech, gesture, sound and light in order to conjure images through a kind of cinematic incantation.

"Rose hurls light against an encroaching darkness and it takes the shape of an alphabet that is pronounced in an unknown language. He here maps the syntax of the phenomenon and it sticks in the mind."
- Anonymous

Sleeping Woman (1992, 4 min.) is a playful documentary about a mysterious poem that appeared on the bank of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia in 1991. The text was written by nationally known poet Stephen Berg and painted on the stone retaining wall beside the river by artist Tom Chimes. A meditation on death, nature, and language, the piece stretches for over 1100 feet along the river. The video is a linked series of visual essays that consider the genesis of the work, the physical splendor of the piece, and the personal and cultural contexts of the project.

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