Programme: Art - PhD/MPhil

Start date: September 2015

Mode of study: Full time

Research title: Mouthwork: Public Address and Laboured Expression Spatiality of voice, body and temporality as practice-led research

Jude Browning is an artist and writer based in Glasgow whose research examines the voice and acts of writing and performance. She is the recipient of the Edinburgh College of Art Scholarship 2015-2018.​

Recent events include Public Voices in collaboration with Naomi Pierce (funded by SGSAH), Morning Routines Under Microscopy The Cooper Gallery and Tayside Deaf Hub, To write, to speak, to publish, to move CCA Creative Lab residency with Emmie McLuskey, Figure 4 Baltic Project Space, Society of Art and Research Writing as Practice, Practice as Writing (The Hague) and projects with Wysing Arts Centre, X Marks the Böxship, The Whitechapel Gallery and PaperWork Magazine.

Mouthwork: Public Address and Laboured Expression

Spatiality of voice, body and temporality as practice-led research

  • How does the camp-rant deliberately undercut expectations of perfection associated with public speaking as explored in the performances of Karen Finley, Diane Torr and Andrea Fraser?

  • Can the promise of failure be a quality which disrupts the reiteration of dominant paradigms and challenges the singular authority of the speakers address?

Mouthwork: Public Address and Laboured Expression is a practice-led PhD comprised of thesis, written prose and monologue performance. The interlinked three part project investigates recitation, as the procedure of committing previously written texts to memory then recalled in the context of spoken public address. The camp-rant is a performative methodology which contradicts proposed links between masculinity and conventions of speaking in public. Promising failure recognises the authority of the voice to claim personal experience. Using the contexts of Finley, Torr and Fraser's performances and my own practice I will unpack how "failure" may be intentionally pursued as a subversive strength.

The thesis explores Judith Butler’s writing on “speech as conduct” and the interpolation of the figure in the public address (Butler, 1997) through three case-studies, as follows: the relationship between the body and language in the monologue It’s My Body by artist Karen Finley (1994), masculine oratory traditions of 2AD Graeco-Rome, apprenticeship teaching methods found in Diane Torr’s 1990’s drag king workshops, Quintilian’s (ca. A.D. 35-98) teaching of writing and speaking and Andrea Fraser’s monologue Men on the Line: Men Committed to Feminism, KPFK (2012).

The practice-led component will be submitted as a standalone prose text, A Good Man Speaking Well. I will further deliver a development of this narrative as a live recited performance for the PhD viva. Using Quintilian’s polemic for the coaching “correct speech” as the title, A Good Man Speaking Well describes in close detail and realtime the routine of a man preparing to start his day. The male figure of the narrative enacts an embodiment of procedural writing and the desired control of speech, gesture and self presence. Written into presence as the generic referent, my choice in using a male protagonist reflects the limits of his figure as a socially-constructed vessel filled with predetermined content.

The public address is framed by the possibility of failure, which creates senses of jeopardy and slippages of control. I will focus on how the voice, body and spatio-temporality engages with scale to configure alternative readings of the figure and experiences of subjectivity produced by language. The structure of the one way address in the performances of Finley, Torr and Fraser engage with the material semiotics of the body, or “figures as performative images which can be inhabited” (Haraway, 1997). The three case-studies explore the use of the voice as a plastic instrument which can modulate across registers to provoke problematics of self representation and the bearing of language on the body as promising failure. The practice-led methodology will outline expectations of the one way address deliberately undercut by playfully engaging with conventions of gender and expectations of delivery. I propose the camp-rant is a performative methodology which reconsiders the self representation of the figure and “how language works against the body and the body can work against language” (Butler, 1999).

Cited References

  • Butler, Judith Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (Routledge, 1997)

  • Haraway, Donna J Modest−Witness@Second−Millennium.FemaleMan−Meets−OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience (Routledge, 1997)

  • Quintilian On the Teaching of Speaking and Writing (translations from Books One, Two and Ten of the Institutio oratoria) Edited by James J Murphy (Southern Illinois University Press, 1987)