Our Work Is Done
By: Matthew Battles | Categories: Kudos, Spectacles, Uncanny

From 2009, the ultimate HiLo performance: actor and voice artist Michael Winslow mimicking the sounds of historical typewriters.

Video via kottke.org; see Frieze for a fine short intro to the film, which was directed by the Spanish artist Ignacio Uriarte— who like hilo friend and fave Michael Lewy makes work that refigures the sterile, uncanny textures of salaryman and wage-slave life. But of course the real star is Winslow, whose performance is not only unearthly in its virtuosic mimicry, but a revelation of the intellectual and kinesthetic work of oral performance. The purely haptic dimension of the vocal apparatus, and the virtuosic control that genius can exert over it, is here anatomized. With all the intensity of a Glenn Gould, Winslow gathers himself for each burst of oral-acoustotypographical embodiment, he seems to call the ghosts of gears, levers, platens, and springs, which fly to his face to haunt their analogues in ligament, muscle, and spittle. It’s at once a great work of outsider scholarship, the ne pus ultra of geekery, and the final Q.E.D. for Aristotle’s Poetics. Clearly, our work is done.

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Matthew Battles, Hilobrow's cofounder, has written about language, history, and the natural world for many publications. When he makes poems, he puts them here. A fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, he's also the author of Library, An Unquiet History.