Vocal Performance Through Electrical Flows: Making Current Kin

Gretchen Jude


What do we hear in a human voice that vibrates through electrical flows? In this paper I argue for listening (and vocalizing) beyond the human in performances with audio media. I propose understanding such performance practice as engaging with what I call plasmatic voice, a phenomenon distinct from the merely additive, prosthetic conception of voice + electricity. Instead, plasmatic voice functions as instances of queer assemblage stretching to reach the radically Other that constitutes ourselves—facilitating the sense of what Alaimo (2010) terms transcorporeality, an understanding of human embodiment as “intermeshed with the more-than-human world” (2). The vibrations of plasmatic voice—as an example of Eidsheim’s (2015) intermaterial vibrational practice—loosen (post)human social constructs of race and gender and reverberate with nonhuman ecosystems, as I illustrate through analysis of musical examples.


posthuman studies; feminist theory

Full Text:



Alaimo, Stacy. 2010. Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press.

Alaimo, Stacy. 2017. “Your Shell on Acid: Material Immersion, Anthropocene Dissolves.” In Anthropocene Feminism. Edited by Richard Grusin, 89–120. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Black Moth Super Rainbow. 2018. “New Breeze.” Panic Blooms. Pittsburg, PA: Rad. Cult Records. https://blackmothsuperrainbow.bandcamp.com/album/panic-blooms

Barad, Karen. 2015. “Transmaterialities: Trans*/Matter/Realities and Queer Political Imaginings.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 21 (2–3): 387–422. https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-2843239

Bonenfant, Yvon. 2010. “Queer Listening to Queer Vocal Timbres.” Performance Research 15 (3): 74–80. https://doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2010.527210

Bourdaughs, Michael. 2012. Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-pop. New York: Columbia University Press.

Connor, Steven. 2000. Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198184331.001.0001

Currier, Diane. 2002. “Assembling Bodies in Cyberspace: Technologies, Bodies and Sexual Difference.” In Reload: Rethinking Women + Cyberculture. Edited by Mary Flanagan and Austin Booth, 519–538. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Currier, Diane. 2003. “Feminist Technological Futures: Deleuze and Body/Technology Assemblages.” Feminist Theory 4 (3): 321–338. https://doi.org/10.1177/14647001030043005

Eidsheim, Nina. 2015. Sensing Sound: Singing and Listening as Vibrational Practice. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822374695

Fahnestock, Jeanne. 1999. Rhetorical Figures in Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Haff, Peter. 2014. “Humans and Technology in the Anthropocene: Six Rules.” The Anthropocene Review 1 (2): 126–136. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053019614530575

Halberstam, Judith. 2011. The Queer Art of Failure. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822394358

Hansen, Mark. 2004. New Philosophy for New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Haraway, Donna. 2015. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.” Environmental Humanities 6: 159–165. https://doi.org/10.1215/22011919-3615934

Haraway, Donna. 2016. “Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene.” e-flux journal 75: 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822373780-003

Hollingshaus, Wade. 2013. Philosophizing Rock Performance: Dylan, Hendrix, Bowie. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Jain, Sarah. 1999. “The Prosthetic Imagination: Enabling and Disabling the Prosthesis Trope.” Science, Technology, and Human Values 24 (1): 31–54. https://doi.org/10.1177/016224399902400103

Lewis, George E. 2000. “Too Many Notes: Complexity and Culture in Voyager.” Leonardo Music Journal 10 (1): 33–39. https://doi.org/10.1162/096112100570585

Massumi, Brian. 2002. Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822383574

Massumi, Brian. 2011. Semblance and Event: Activist Philosophy and the Occurrent Arts. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Mills, Mara. 2012. “Media and Prosthesis: The Vocoder, the Artificial Larynx, and the History of Signal Processing.” Qui Parle 21 (1): 107–149. https://doi.org/10.5250/quiparle.21.1.0107

Planningtorock. 2011. “Doorway.” W. New York: DFA/Rostron Records.

Puar, Jasbir. 2012. “‘I Would Rather Be a Cyborg than a Goddess’: Becoming-Intersectional in Assemblage Theory.” philosoPHIA 2 (1): 49–66.

Sterne, Jonathan. 2007. “Out with the Trash: On the Future of New Media.” In Residual Media. Edited by Charles R. Acland, 16–31. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. 2005. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Yellow Magic Orchestra. 1979. “Behind the Mask.” Solid State Survivor. Tokyo: Alfa Records.

Zalasiewoicz, Jan, Mark Williams, Colin Waters, Anthony Barnosky, John Palmesino, Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, Matt Edgeworth, Cath Neal, Alejandro Cearreta, Erle Ellis, Jacques Grinevald, Peter Haff, Juliana Ivar do Sul, Catherine Jeandel, Reinhold Leinfelder, John McNeill, Eric Odada, Naomi Oreskes,, Simon James Price Andrew Revkin, Will Steffen, Colin Summerhayes, Davor Vidas, Scott Wing, and Alexander Wolfe. 2017. “Scale and Diversity of the Physical Technosphere: A Geologic Perspective.” The Anthropocene Review 4 (1): 9–22. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053019616677743

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2019.42235

Copyright (c) 2019 Gretchen Jude

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.