Vocal and material mourning : Stuart Marshall, Mouth Works (1975/76)

Holdsworth, Claire M. (2017) Vocal and material mourning : Stuart Marshall, Mouth Works (1975/76). In: Material Futures : Matter, Memory and Loss in Contemporary Art Production and Preservation; 29 - 30 Jun 2017, Glasgow, U.K.. (Unpublished)


By exploring a series of videos by Stuart Marshall entitled Mouth Works (1975/76), this 20-minute paper considered the tensions underlying research that traces ephemeral contexts involving performance and recorded audio-visual material, modernist discourses, physicality and obsolescence in relation to archival research. Each of the three, short, black-and-white videos in Marshall's series depicts a fixed close-up of a mouth whose words speak phrases over and again, in and out of sync, in a living loop that shatters understanding of technology, time, space and the circumstances through which we watch them. The paper referred to theories of the voice and 'split' conditions of recorded utterance as discussed by Steven Connor (2000) and Mladen Dolar (2006). These concepts were used to frame examination of queer archives and the antiphonal dynamics of the artists' recorded voice as a catalyst for the evolving afterlife of works and what Simon Reynolds describes as the shared quests of the 'avant-garde' and the 'retro-grade' (2011, p.263). Analyses considered how history is translated by the mediums – whether written or technological – through which they reach us today, what Katherine Hayles calls the 'material metaphor, a term that foregrounds the traffic between words and physical artifacts' (2002, p.22).

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