“Monotone Talk.” The robotic voice speaks plainly and without inflection.
I am drawn into some sort of dystopian future-pop collage, swimming around in my headphones. Simple colorful geometric shapes dance across my screen, like bright tropical fish darting around an aquarium. The latest offering from Argentina’s Patricio Garcia is immediately engaging, and I surrender completely to the experience.
Voices of politicians, journalists and Hollywood stars chopped up like confetti and blasted out of a cannon into my brain. They flutter in the swirling currents of air like tiny colorful creatures locked in a chaotic dance with the universe. Snippets of Adolf Hitler, former Argentine presidents Juan Domingo Peron and Cristina Fernandez. Former spokesperson for ISIS Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, United States president Donald Trump. Even Emma Stone makes an unexpected appearance here. Not a single voice is heard above the rest, nobody shouting to be heard over the others.
We have all had those meetings at work…
Where we have to suffer through someone speaking not for the sake of elucidation or making any kind of point, purely in service of their ego. That moment they have been waiting for all day. It is their “turn” to talk. They may have had a point they wished make, but it was visited briefly and lost long ago, while they ramble on through a maze of mindless meandering anecdotes and asides.
The mind goes numb listening to them speak. It is as though we are held hostage by their voice, we can’t stand up and leave, we can’t change the channel, and we can’t go to sleep. We feel our eyes glazing over, our facial muscles droop and our shoulders slump, and we just want it to be over. It turns into a sort of background noise, a buzzing sound, a monotonous tone we can’t escape. It’s like a form of very mild torture we must endure for the sake of their stoking their self-importance.
In “Monotone Talk,” Garcia samples snippets of these droning speeches, arranging them in a dada-esque collage of sounds. Their words stripped of meaning become mere representations of tonality and timbre – rhythmic devices devoid of their mundane intent. Instead now, they are piling over each other in a free-for-all food fight at the local smorgasbord.
They overlap and form deep layers of sounds, continually interrupting each other without the slightest hint of the irritation they would experience were they talking over each other in real life. Nobody is waiting their turn. Nobody holds the reins of power. There is no moderator or talking head on the television screen. What Garcia has done here is compile their voices in such a way as to render them powerless. It all blends together to make a new sort of meta-commentary, swimming in a sea of speech samples with all of the useless meaning stripped away, given a new sort of poignancy in the merely playful arrangement of sounds.
The monotony of a hundred droning speeches now becoming downright musical. An object of playfulness and amusement which hypnotizes and mesmerizes. At the same time it makes me want to get out of my chair and dance like a crazed marionette breaking free from its strings. It celebrates meaninglessness with pure, absolute abandon. Jumping into, and repeatedly emerging from the fire not only unscathed, but wholly born anew.
This is pop culture cannibalizing itself.
Gnawing on its own leg, a twisted shiny ouroboros swallowing its own tail until finally reaching its head, it disappears completely. The crowd cheers as though it just witnessed a magic trick. I applaud along with them as the final bits of shredded confetti are tumbling down to rest on the floor of a much more boring and oppressive reality I am saddened to return to.
So, I click the play button again.