The Double-Mouth


The double-mouth + collective-mouth: audio work in the gaps of the voice

Project by Brandon LaBelle and Ricardo Basbaum

scope: poster

clients: Bergen Academy of Art and Design / Universidade do Estado, Rio de Janeiro


Our vocal mechanism can be understood to contain two mouths – one being the oral cavity, including the tongue and teeth, and which the opening and the closing of the lips articulates, and the second, that of the glottis, the aperture residing farther back, in the throat and which controls the pressures and modulations of air flow. The mouth and the vocal cords, the lips and the glottis: two mouths, each with their own relation to speech, and each participating in the frictions and faculties of voicing. The double-mouth can be highlighted as the meeting of the body and language, where the glottis as the interior mouth (the bodily flesh) converses with the exterior mouth (the social voice) articulated by the lips.


Exploring this double-mouth, the project sets out to occupy and amplify the space between – that gap wherein body and language meet, where the interior rises up to vibrate the glottis, then traveling through the mouth, to extend from the lips and into enunciation. All the dynamics and intensities taking place in this gap, this space between in and out, glottis and lips, can be understood through the history of sound poetics, vocal performances, and what De Certeau calls the "opera of glossolalia".


Also, when two bodies relate to each other, language and senses play a role in the processes of getting in touch and communicate – this constitutes another double layer that involves the body and the social space, communication tools and their protocols. Through these protocols, the mouth is socially trained to perform and administrate the economy of the several contact layers that open up between this body – its senses and pulsions – and other bodies. Here, speech, writing and other communication and contact tools and mediators perform and extend the body to the outer territories and make it multiply audible. This might be a second aspect of the double-mouth: one that pushes the body to its outside; the mouth as a collective, social external site.


Researching these gaps, these histories, and these poetics, the project is developed as a double-mouth, even triple-mouth: audio collaborations between students from Bergen and students from Rio de Janeiro.