Lepidoptera

text-sound fixed media with video by Spike Alkire

Lepidoptera is a multimedia text-sound piece composed completely of individual phonemes taken from the narration of the 1967 Encyclopedia Britannica educational short film, The Monarch Butterfly Story. I was inspired by the early musique concrète techniques of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry to create a work using only "non-musical" sounds. I have always been fascinated by the Rod Serling-esque, smoky timbre of many narrations in mid-century film and television and decided to use this sound as an instrument. When I found The Monarch Butterfly Story, I was captivated by the musicality of the narrator's voice. As soon as I heard him speak, "lepidoptera," I decided to utilize the individual phonemes of his speech - with their varied and nuanced inflections - to create a chorus of rhythms and timbres. The surreal visual element of this work was created by the filmmaker, Spike Alkire, who took on a similar compositional approach by editing together fragments of the source documentary footage to create a kaleidoscope of colors and layered imagery.