»The Vocoder: Music and Future Identity«

25.08.17 / 20:00 - 20:40 / /
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Clockwise: Julian Weber, Kristen Gallerneaux (Photo: Graham Morrison), Dave Tompkins (Photo: Louise Bauso)

Talk with Julian Weber, Kristen Gallerneaux, Dave Tompkins

Humans are turning into machines, into cyborgs. Machines, inversely, are becoming more human – or that’s at least been a decades-old goal of research and engineering. The vocoder was an important step in this direction. Originally developed for encryption purposes during World War II, this device, which synthesises, modifies, and encodes the human voice, first permanently changed telecommunications – and now permanently changes pop culture. And while today’s telecommunications are no longer conceivable without the vocoder, the device also functions in music as a pathway into new and foreign spaces. In the case of artists from Funkadelic to Herbie Hancock to Janelle Monaé, the vocoder is rather afro-futuristically employed to evoke outer space or alternatives to traditional gender norms.

Dave Tompkins, Kristen Gallerneaux, and Julian Weber discuss how the vocoder has participated in the exploration of ideas about future and identity. Tompkins is the author of »How to Wreck a Nice Beach«, the ultimate cultural history of the vocoder. Gallerneaux works as Curator of Communication and Information Technology at The Henry Ford Museum in Michigan, and Weber is a cultural editor at the newspaper taz.