30 September 2009
Smashing The Cul-de-Sac Of Poetry: Is There A Noise Continuum? - Part 9
While William S Burroughs was plotting and cutting up texts in Paris, France, another iconic but yet lesser known figure was trying to revolutionise poetry from its two-dimensional staid cul-de-sac in France as well - Henri Chopin. Just like Burroughs, he was enthralled with the possibility of making poetry alive and more tactile once again since the heydays of dada by harnessing the seemingly boundless electrified potential of tape recorders. Poetry as sound, poetry as audio painting.
What Burroughs was doing in novel and prose, Chopin was pushing the boundaries with poetry albeit without the paranoid infected and conspiracy-loaded mindset of the Burroughsian worldview. Chopin was interested in the exploration of the grain of voice, the manipulation of the timbre of vocal utterance, the vibration of the larynx, the texture of throat emission, and of course the accompanying hiss and gasps of the medium of the art form, the recorder by liberating using the record, pause, stop and play buttons of the tool to often startling effect.
Chopin basically pioneered the breaking down the artificial markers between music and language by proposing in his various experiments of the corporealisation of poetry as an art form and as a medium of expression. He viewed poetry as quinessentially a form of energy which we should actively tap and re-channel to greater efficiency and efficacy.
To many he was also a figurehead of the various strains of mid-twentieth century avantgarde movements which spanned across post dada, lettrists, fluxus, etc in his editiorship of the sound/poetry magazine OU from the 1960s to the 1970s which featured works from Burroughs and Brion Gysin to Bob Cobbing, from Raoul Hausmann to Ake Hodell and many more which have been excellently compiled and released as a deluxe boxset by Alga Marghen a few years back.
A true visionary who believed in the transformative power of language as human sound as noise as art. Today his influence can be felt in many noisicians who are exploring the interface between electronic tools, the human voice and noise.
Go to Chopin to find out more.