Vocal Nest – non-verbal atmospheres that matter

Heidi Marika Fast
Abstract In my artistic doctoral research project “Vocal Nest”, I worked with the potentialities of non-verbal vocal art in the conditions of psychical suffering. The situation-sensitive human sound installation was actualized at the central corridor of Helsinki University Central Hospital´s Psychiatrycenter in Finland. I used the compositional practice of vocal affective attunement as a research medium, to catalyze groups of people, who were as inpatients in the hospital, to create a collective resonance sphere by vocalizing and listening. How did embodied encountering with the human atmospheres create differentiated patterns of meaning making in this material-discursive environment? This exposition, made up of vocal, visual, and textual aspects, proposes that the artistic transmission from the registers of silence toward vocal utterances, as well as from the linguistic reality toward non-verbal vocal expression attuned an archaic mode of connection to the strictly regulated hospital space. It offers alternative and more holistic understanding of the assumedly clear boundaries between subject and object, and healthy and sick, by expanding the expressive scale of what is typically considered as communicative and reasonable. This exposition may be of interest to those interested in the sensate forms of knowledge production and affective potentialities of the human voice, not from the perspective of health benefits, but from the viewpoint of rendering heard the vulnerable, and peripheral attributes of being a human. The blurred atmospheres invite the reader to slightly let go of oneself and attune to a dwelling mode of (reading as) listening. “Vocal Nest” was first of a three-part series entitled ”Hospital Symphonies”, an artistic modulation of the mutually transformative relations between art and psychiatry.