This Is Not My Voice Speaking

In this clever and diverting show, the only immediate tangible human input comes from the audience

‘This Is Not My Voice Speaking’: There is plenty of joy to be had in the simple tactility of the process (whirr, click, thunk)

‘This Is Not My Voice Speaking’: There is plenty of joy to be had in the simple tactility of the process (whirr, click, thunk)

Wed, Oct 2, 2013, 11:41

This Is Not My Voice Speaking
Temple Bar Gallery and Studios
***

Ant Hampton is perhaps best known in theatre circles for his Autoteatro series of works, whereby audience members perform the pieces, often for each other, after being given a series of cues. The idea is not that the audience needs to be clever or creative: rather, they rigidly follow a carefully choreographed set-up, and form the only tangible human input into the show.

This piece, created by Hampton with Britt Hatzius, slots neatly into this framework. On arrival, audiences of no more than five (on the day I arrived, we were just two) are labelled either One or Zero. We are gently warned that the show will require concentration, and instructions will need to be followed closely: machines have been carefully calibrated. It all sounds very ominous – and it really isn’t.

We are ushered into a room with a collection of familiar if dated machines, and asked over the course of just under 30 minutes to work our way through the piece. Instructions are issued via cassette tapes, speakers and an LP. A projected film is started and stopped; overhead projections are shuffled through; a record is sped up and slowed down; tapes are played and rewound. Everything is analogue and is done with a series of satisfying clunks and clicks. Knobs are turned. Buttons are pressed. Needles are dropped. It’s very diverting and lots of fun. There is plenty of joy to be had in the simple tactility of the process (whirr, click, thunk), and even the simplest of instructions can be misunderstood in a group dynamic when trying to co-operate with a stranger (or perhaps this reviewer is irredeemably dim).

Hatzius and Hampton seem to be asking us to consider how ineffectual our own bodies are when contrasted with the reassuring solidity of a well-built machine, and throughout the piece they play with the disconnection between what we see and hear and what is real. Or perhaps it is making subtle points to different generations about how skeuomorphism feels familiar to some and nostalgic to others. It’s clever, slickly choreographed and well executed – but the deeper points may be a bit too subtle for most, in the face of the simple childish pleasure from being asked to push a lot of buttons. Until October 12