This short (sound & words) video explores the extent to which one of the most intimate aspects of our being – our voices – have been colonized by capitalism. Not just the words we say, but the very texture of the way we say them, have been shaped by our economic system, and its various imperatives. What Marx termed “alienation” can manifest itself in many ways. In this case, the sound of our voices have become alienated from ourselves, hijacked by capital, and obliged to ventriloquize the deep and indifferent needs of the profit motive. From this perspective, capitalism is a parasite which has lodged in all of our throats. (An idea borrowed from Dominic Pettman’s recent book, Sonic Intimacy: Voice, Species, Technics.)
Whether it is a mother listening to her daughter’s voice on the telephone, a dog listening to His Master’s Voice on a gramophone, a lamp listening for the clap of a hand, or a microphone listening for specific shapes determined by an algorithm, there is a subjectively-inflected object or operation “paying heed” to its environment. This listening thing is möbius-minded. And to emphasize its subjective or objective nature is to play the duck-rabbit game for rhetorically strategic reasons. Where Heidegger would tell us that an animal is poor in hearing, von Uexküll would insist that each mode of attunement to the world creates its own umwelt, which are largely incommensurable. Extra-human voices, if we acknowledge their existence, have the potential to pop or connect these ontological bubbles.