'Bill Burroughs Memorial Choir' is an on-going project in which Christine Sullivan and Rob Flint explore attempted mimicry of the cult American writer William S. Burroughs, whose distinctive voice is his posthumous legacy. The video excerpt, sub-titled 'Where Are You Bill?' is based on a short film in which the writer swaps voices in the soundtrack with the writer Anthony Balch. Using the services of Christella Antoni, a speech therapist whose practice deals with vocal transformation, a series of volunteers attempt the near-impossible task of mimicking his voice using a short phrase from the Balch/Burroughs film.
The following text is the proposal put forward to Aspex Gallery who showed the work in the exhibition 'Emergency 5' in 2011/12 :
BILL BURROUGHS MEMORIAL CHOIR - A PROPOSAL
THE SPOKEN VOICE OF CULT AUTHOR WILLIAM BURROUGHS REMAINS CENTRAL TO HIS POSTHUMOUS PERSONA, DELIBERATELY DISEMBODIED BY AUDIOTAPE ‘CUT-UPS’, LOOPS, AND OVERLAYS.
IN AN ERA OF DIGITAL RECORDING, WHEN LOOPS AND CUTS ARE MAINSTREAM METHODS, ‘THE BILL BURROUGHS MEMORIAL CHOIR’ WILL USE ORGANIC TECHNIQUES OF AUDITORY DISEMBODIMENT IN SEARCH OF THE BURROUGH’S VOICE. ASSISTED BY EXPERT VOICE-COACH CHRISTELLA ANTONI, WHOSE DAILY MEDICAL PRACTICE IS VOCAL GENDER RE-ALIGNMENT, 8-10 VOLUNTEERS WILL ATTEMPT TO INHABIT THIS ICONIC VOICE, IN A MIXTURE OF SEANCE, VENTRILOQUISM AND GREEK CHORUS.
DOCUMENTATION OF THIS ACTIVITY COMPRISES THE WORK.
- the public installation projected video focuses on the faces of the volunteers, instructed by the off-screen therapist.