Wolman et son double


Is it to "en finir avec cette idée des chefs-d'oeuvre" ("be done with this idea of masterpieces"), as Antonin Artaud proclaimed, that Gil J Wolman calls his recording Wolman et son double, in a détournement of Artaud's famous essay collection and "masterpiece" Le Théâtre et son double (The Theatre and Its Double) (1938)? Artaud's Tête-à-tête performance at the Théâtre du Vieux Colombier on January 13, 1947, had a major impact on the future sound poets of the "poésie physique," François Dufrêne, Jean-Louis Brau, and Gil J Wolman. The "poésie physique" of Gil J Wolman, his "mégapneumie" (poems of breath and sound) appeared as soon as 1950 and eventually developed into an improvisation for breath and organic sounds originating from the throat and the whole body. The work seems to be designed to disturb the human aspect of speech. Wolman et son double, a previously unreleased recording probably from the late '70s, is Wolman's most theatrical -- as well as musical and lyrical -- piece. This is due to its duration and above all to its experimental recording techniques; Wolman records a series of improvisations on a 30-minute track, then mixes them with a new series of mégapneumes. The mixing and manipulations with echo and Larsen effects are a novelty if compared to the other mégapneumes recordings. The first track begins with a hum, immediately overlaid by Wolman's "poésie physique": hoarseness, cough, strangulation, twisting, wheeze, rumbling, hiccups, asphyxia; a whole set of gripes against himself and his speech. Wolman breaths and winces, he mimes the impacts, the scars of the blows by an invisible fighter, actually his double. Wolman et son double suggests a theatrical set, with characters entering the stage of the mégapneume. They are archetypes rather than psychological characters: a dybbuk or an old witch with a sardonic laugh; the drum major with his martial clicks; several warbling, trumpeting and barking animals, mad masters of a human speech conspiracy. Before the piece's end, an insolent call for a national strike is heard. Artaud observed that "actors in France no longer know how to do anything but talk"; Wolman et son double may well be the national strike from that show, from "masterpiece" art.