Ekphrastic Objects (2004- ) is a performance in the format of a traditional lecture, a scholarly discourse accompanied by projected text and images. It is presented during colloquiums and conferences, but also within film programs, spoken word festivals, and at the margins of exhibitions. It both adopts and circumvents the conventions and sets of expectations inherent in what has become a standardized model for the transmission of knowledge.
The talk is structured around the encounter between Jacques-Mandé Daguerre and Samuel Morse in Paris in 1839 during which they share with one another the analogical and proto-digital inventions for which they are known. The allegorical evocation of these private demonstrations sets the stage for a wide variety of questions concerning realist description, translation, verbal representation of visual forms (ekphrasis), and the relationship between 'natural' and formal languages among other things.
Each utterance is processed through a computer program, then visualized and projected as moving text in a virtual space. As these texts accumulate, they give a visible and material form, an externalized memory to the entire corpus of spoken statements. The program itself has an entropic propensity toward error, noise and miscommunication problematizing the highly descriptive emphasis of the talk. Within this context, voice is experienced as a performative event, a speech act both declaring visible 'truths' and at the same time struggling to control meaning and maintain order. During this process, a gap is opened between what is said and read, heard and seen, within which the materiality of language is experienced as a malleable substance experimented in real time.