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Performing Arts General

Media Ventriloquism

How Audiovisual Technologies Transform the Voice-Body Relationship

by (author) Jaimie Baron, Jennifer Fleeger & Shannon Wong Lerner

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2021
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price

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The word "ventriloquism" has traditionally referred to the act of throwing one's voice into an object that appears to speak. Media Ventriloquism repurposes the term to reflect our complex vocal relationship with media technologies. The 21st century has offered an array of technological means to separate voice from body, practices which have been used for good and ill. We currently zoom about the internet, in conversations full of audio glitches, using tools that make it possible to live life at a distance. Yet at the same time, these technologies subject us to the potential for audiovisual manipulation. But this voice/body split is not new. Radio, cinema, television, video games, digital technologies, and other media have each fundamentally transformed the relationship between voice and body in myriad and often unexpected ways. This book explores some of these experiences of ventriloquism and considers the political and ethical implications of separating bodies from voices. The essays in the collection, which represent a variety of academic disciplines, demonstrate not only how particular bodies and voices have been (mis)represented through media ventriloquism, but also how marginalized groups - racialized, gendered, and queered, among them - have used media ventriloquism to claim their agency and power.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Jaimie Baron is Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Alberta. She is the author of two books, The Archive Effect: Found Footage and the Audiovisual Experience of History (2014) and Reuse, Misuse, Abuse: The Ethics of Audiovisual Appropriation in the Digital Era (2020), and numerous journal articles and book chapters. She is the director of the Festival of (In)appropriation, a festival of short experimental found footage films and videos, and co-editor of the Docalogue website and book series.

Jennifer Fleeger is Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communication Studies at Ursinus College where she coordinates the program in Film Studies. She has written about the voice in two books for Oxford University Press, Sounding American: Hollywood, Opera, and Jazz and Mismatched Women: The Siren's Song through the Machine.

Shannon Wong Lerner is an affiliate at HATCH: the Mellon-funded Feminist Arts and Science Shop at UC Davis. She has written about breath, gender/sexuation, queerness, and voice in two chapters, "All of My Work is Performance: Irigarayan Methods of Breath for Dance and Voice" in Breathing with Luce Irigaray (2013). Her forthcoming chapter is "Technopneumatic Bodies: Resuscitating the Feminine as Racialized and Queered" in The Body In Sound, Music, and Performance (2021). She is the creator of Queer Home Meditation, an online community of LGBTQIA+ practitioners, and co-creator with Monifa Harris of eFEMeral: Voice Matters, a podcast about the performance of identity, voice, and femme and feminine cultures.