This is a brilliantly weird and hypnotic record, featuring pretty much nothing but the voice of conceptual artist Hanne Lippard reading a variety of texts typical of our digital age - things like autoresponders, FAQ’s, social media posts, bot-generated spam mail etc (or as she calls it ‘degenerate, or “b-language”) as a continuation of her ongoing investigation of the differences between the spoken and the written word. The result is entrancing, funny/sad in an almost Larkinian way and highly thought provoking, a cross between modernist sound poetry, layered social commentary and uncanny ASMR trigger. From a label that’s given us releases from Nkisi, Tehran’s Morteza Hannaneh and Ron Morelli - it’s an intriguing move.
Lippard is an artist of some international acclaim, and as far as we’re aware ‘Work’ is her first recorded sound document available commercially. In it she takes a variety of empty, seemingly meaningless texts from Wiki pages, corporate websites, spam mail, museum FAQ’s etc and reenacts them vocally with some stylistic and semantic interventions. Her monologues take the texts out of cold states and into something that’s perhaps even more ambiguous - repetition, metre, intonation and the rhythm of the language itself all become tools for manipulation. One reading is intimate. The next, alienating. But why, and how?
In part, ‘Work’ serves as a form of basic social commentary - illustrating just how mundane, repetitive and detached our lives have become in the digital age. But there is a deeper dissection of the human condition at play as well; the moments of vulnerability dotted throughout suddenly shift the emphasis and effect into a form of personal, almost sensual communication - despite the lack of meaning. Sometimes, it feels as though a fourth wall is broken - as if Lippard’s automaton is all of a sudden addressing you directly. The effect of this is unsettling, the out-of body dimension enhanced by the medium - making this a fascinating and surprisingly moving look into the uncanny properties of the spoken word.