HANDS to MOUTHS (2018)
18‘45′ endless loop
by Mareike Yin-Yee Lee + Marc Sabat
HANDS to MOUTHS is a two part sound and film installation beginning with a chorus of six singing heads and sweeping across the space to the opposite wall with flowing hand gestures created in real time by Dhrupad singer Marianne Svasek. As she physically produces and interprets tones in just intonation composed by Marc Sabat, she is filmed with hand-held camera by Mareike Lee. Her movements (mouth, hands, throat) are intrinsically linked, one-to- one, to sound production and transformations.
Dhrupad is distinguished by its concept of note (svara) as shape, curvature, phrase, intonation. Notes, drawn in space by the performerÕs hands, are recorded live and superimposed based on melodic counterpoints and harmonic modulations, in which the connections of tones are articulated successively (lines, melodies) and simultaneously (drones, chords).
Analog color filters are applied to the individual svaras based on their central tones (frequencies), the relationship and grammar of color spectrum articulating harmonic frequencies and musical structure. The individual sounds and hues are juxtaposed in a montage of layered shadings and tonal interactions collaboratively created in the editing process.
HANDS to MOUTHS began with an image of six mirrored windows opening, each revealing a sung note or melodic phrase connecting notes, associated with a color and movement of hands or mouth. From the six windows in the museum wall, once a cloister, the voices of a woman with a deep, experienced voice emerge.
The ‘MOUTHS’ (chorus) are placed on a wall facing three shuttered and blinded windows upon which ‘HANDS’ (counterpoint) sweep gently across dividing lines — walls and borders — leaving a partial opening to the outside world. The viewer is cradled inside the space, made complicit in the movement of the piece from wall to wall as the videos alternate, rather than assuming a distanced external gaze.
Marianne Svasek is one of the few female master singers who studied in India following the Dagar family tradition. With her deep and incredibly precise expressions, she led us to conceive a piece focused on her vocal inflections interacting with details of the body.