Jon Tjhia, Thing-Like, 2019
How is a business phone call like a folk song or jazz standard? How much are non-words, and part-words, involved in how we communicate? Is it possible to speak into the void; to use our voices to communicate nothing at all?In Thing-Like, Jon Tjhia has created a suite of 'exercises' – basically analogous to piano études, or studies, for edited sound works. Taking Walter Ong's preoccupations with the 'immersive' and vital nature of oral culture as a point of departure, these pieces tease and critique the heavy burden of speech and its value: as social currency, blunt instrument, monetary resource and point of connection.This collection of short works is composed for speakers – inviting, intrusive, implicating the passer-by; and headphones – individual, interior. Traditional interviews, aimless conversations, paid celebrity dedications, forgotten sing-alongs, free improvisations, custom voice synthesis and chance murmurs become material for a process that is both informal and entirely formal. Speakers’ words are manipulated (‘say that again, but opposite’); license agreements are breached. While Ong argues that thought and expression have been fundamentally reconfigured by the technology of writing; Thing-Like suggests ways in which voice and speech have been reconfigured by the technology of money and how it structures time.
CreditsThing-Like, by Jon Tjhia, was adapted for stereo from a four-channel installation. It features Carolyn Connors, Ahmed Yussuf and Montell Jordan.
Photo by Yuula Benivolski
Photo by Yuula Benivolski
“I’m generally interested in thinking about sound as a material and time as a material. Speech acts, and the way most examples of speaking make no sense without at least an implied listener. But the key idea which informs Thing-Like as a title and a work is Ong’s insistence on writing as a technology, and how that’s bled back into the realm of speaking. It’s not just writing that’s become standardised. And, if you think of it in certain ways, the recorded voice is very similar to the written word.”~Jon TjhiaLive Performance of Thing-Like at the Resonant Bodies exhibition opening on August 11th, 2019 at the Toronto Media Arts CentreJon Tjhia is a radio maker, musician, artist and writer who's interested in people, time, music and expectation. He's a co-founder of Paper Radio. Since 2010, Paper Radio’s audio stories have been heard on the radio, at literary festivals, danced to and written about around the world. Jon has made long-form documentary podcasts, including Better Off Dead and the multi-award winning series The Messenger, with the Wheeler Centre, where he works as an editor and publisher of multimedia stories. His radio work has been heard on podcasts including Short Cuts and The Truth. This past year, his installations and collaborations have been exhibited in Canada, NZ, Australia and the internet. Tjhia is based in Melbourne, Australia. Find him on Twitter @serviceetc and @paperradio.Upcoming: A collaborative work Jon is involved with (https://manusrecordingproject.com) is currently showing in Wellington (https://citygallery.org.nz/exhibitions/eavesdropping/) and Auckland (https://gusfishergallery.auckland.ac.nz/the-shouting-valley/).About Resonant BodiesThing-Like is Part 2 of Constellations’ RESONANT BODIES 6-part series and online exhibition, which will run from October 25th-December 2nd 2019. Learn more about the project HERE.