The Voice of Things

Twitchin, Mischa. 2019. 'The Voice of Things'. In: Arte e Antropologia: Oggetti fuori posto, oggetti che parlano. Antonio Pasqualino International Museum of Marionettes, Palermo, Italy 15-16 October 2019. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

The idea of letting objects “speak for themselves” is generally regarded with deep suspicion. To admit that objects already possess knowledge disturbs cultural suppositions of, for example, an animate-inanimate, or subject-object, hierarchy of relations. But some objects are evidently media for the knowledge of “authorities” other than curators – such as ancestors, or even gods. Any question
concerning the voices of things (whether those of spirits or conservators, advertisers or masqueraders) depends, moreover, on a prior question – that of hearing; and also, within sound, that of touch. What conditions of listening to objects are engaged by their exhibition in museums – before they are ventriloquised by the contemporary mediation of apps and QR codes (never mind old-school audioguides)? The claim for “augmented realities” (whether virtual or participative) is not defined by such new media, however, but is already evidenced by the old media preserved in erstwhile ethnographic museums. The question of such objects’ voices is not limited to that of provenance, then, but may also be heard in the cadence of lament and prayer – expressed in the prosopopoeia of African masks, for example, by poets such as Okri, Osundare, and Senghor.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


15 October 2019Completed

Event Location:

Antonio Pasqualino International Museum of Marionettes, Palermo, Italy

Date range:

15-16 October 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

18 Oct 2019 15:07

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 17:19


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