The following text was written as a collaboration between Virginia Barratt and Quinn Eades, as an experimental work of ekphrastic ‘writing with’ or ‘writing to’ (Gale & Wyatt 2018), taking as its subject an operatic performance entitled ‘Vocal Womb’ by Eve Klein, a music technologist, popular music scholar and an operatic mezzo soprano and composer.
The operatic work, ‘Vocal Womb’, comprised two arias, based on poems written by Quinn Eades and Virginia Barratt, arranged in a ‘post-operatic’ mode, to use a term proposed by Jelena Novak to speak about theorising a body-voice relationship in contemporary, post-dramatic and media-augmented operatic works, ‘where interventions upon the body-voice relation open possibilities not only for expanding the borders of the opera world further, but also for what is considered body and voice in opera’ (Novak 2015).
The original poems engaged with notions of affectivity, the phenomenology of panic, birthing, the post-linguistic and its role in writing trauma and the body, and écriture matière (Eades 2015), which is writing matter/the material. The poem/arias were arranged within a composition of samples, electronic noise, Eve’s own body sounds amplified by stethoscopes, and live sound and video feeds. The original poems, already products of ‘the remainder’ (Lecercle 1990), were thus further de/composed with the result that the affective ‘noise’ of the texts was amplified.
The text ’Vocal Womb’ and the ekphrasis machine (we die) was the result of Barratt and Eades writing with and to the live arias in a constraint-based processual performance. In a dialogic relationship to the poem/arias, we were sensing the vitalities of the iterative always-becoming text, and coaxing out the new emergent poetics, feeding back in a spiralling exchange with our poems, and mining the remainder for the refrain.