Jabber (2008)
a film by Gary Lee Nelson

View the Film (8:00)

Jabber is a rendering of Lewis Carroll’s classic poem, “Jabberwocky” that I committed to memory as a child. The sole audio source is my voice speaking the poem.  The text is completely intelligible in parts of the piece.  It is also subjected to granulation and shifting in time and pitch. I limited myself to the resources of a laptop computer that included a digital camera as well as the usual built-in microphone.

This work exists in several forms.  The present version is audio only in stereo to meet the constraints of the CD medium. A concert version is presented in surround sound with interactive processing of sound and image.  The sole image is my disembodied face captured with the computer camera and transformed with digital video processes that are akin to what is done to the audio.  Lighting is controlled using colors reflected on my face from the computer screen.  The third version is a standalone computer application that captures and analyzes a performer’s reading and then transforms the sound algorithmically in real time.  In this version, the choice of text is left to the performer.

This piece began as a demonstration for my Technology 210 class in the fall of 2006. I was illustrating techniques for recording and playing back sounds in real time. As source material, I used my own voice speaking the lines of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” which Ihad long-since committed to memory. A few weeks after the class demonstration I decided to make it into a proper piece for the Oberlin composer’s concert on November 21, 2006. I limited myself to the resources of my new laptop that included a digital camera as well as the usual built-in microphone. I made a studio recording of myself with the help of Paul Eachus, director of the Oberlin Conservatory audio services. During the performance, I process that recording, my voice live and my face as captured by the computer’s camera. A stereo version with just the audio will be released shorty in the CDCM series from Centaur Records.