Amanda Rice | The Flesh of Language | Visual Arts | Sirius Arts Centre Cobh

Amanda Rice | The Flesh of Language Amanda Rice | The Flesh of Language

Amanda Rice, The Flesh of Language (still), 2023. Video, colour, sound, 12 minutes. Courtesy of the artist

Amanda Rice | The Flesh of Language

27th May - 24th Jun

Amanda Rice, The Flesh of Language (still), 2023. Video, colour, sound, 12 minutes. Courtesy of the artist

Amanda Rice
The Flesh of Language

The artist Amanda Rice examines humanity’s impact on Earth’s ecosystems through the
lenses of two interrelated mechanics of capitalism: extraction and overproduction. Rice’s
films use storytelling and abstraction to create narratives that oscillate between historical
accounts, personal impressions, and speculative fiction. In past works, she has addressed
questions of matter, industry, and energy.

Rice’s film The Flesh of Language (2023) is informed by three research strands. The first
is the parapsychologist Konstantin Raudive’s 1960s investigation of anomalous voice-
like sounds found on tape recordings, thought to be spirit messages and also known as
electronic voice phenomena. The second is a 1985 experiment by zoologist Andrew
Kitchener aimed at providing an anatomical explanation as to whether the extinct Irish
elk, Megaloceros giganteus, used its antlers in battle, a critical question in evolutionary
biology. The third involves inputs on the practicalities of media conservation.

The first part of the film is composed of elements of Raudive’s sound archive borrowed
from collections held at the British Library and fragments of illustrations from his
research. This section covers lesser-known experiments conducted by Raudive, including
a radio séance where he attempted to speak with the dead and sessions involving a
budgerigar who was believed to transmit information from a deceased fourteen-year-old
girl. The intermittent decipherability of images and audible patterns refers to the
complexities in interacting with the unliving and beyond language.

In the second part of the film, Rice evokes Kitchener’s experiment by showing the
National Museum of Ireland storage facility, which accommodates numerous skull
specimen fragments, including antlered skeletons, followed by diagrams taken from
papers by Kitchener and the paleontologist Stephen J. Gould. Dancers reenact what could
have been the Irish elk’s movements when fighting, citing a “performance” that
Kitchener orchestrated to demonstrate that their antlers interlock in that circumstance.
This sequence also features intertitles that contextualize Kitchener’s idea, and a dance to
an obscure Italo disco track from 1985 as a ritualistic attempt to “revive” the Irish elk.

The Flesh of Language pieces together visual and audible representations, both
imaginative and empirical, to establish a parallel between interspecies and paranormal
communication and to engage with the barrier separating science and esotericism in
addressing the life spans and resurrection of subjects and technologies. The film uses
alternative forms of knowledge, such as the choreographic, to establish crossovers
between human and nonhuman bodies. It investigates an expanded notion of the archive
focused on material (de)composition through themes of extinction and preservation.

Launch Event
Amanda Rice in conversation with Michele Horrigan
Saturday, 27 May, 3–5pm
Free; no booking required

Amanda Rice and Michele Horrigan discuss Rice’s style of filmmaking, the role of story-telling in her work, how she blends historical accounts with fiction and her approach to research, her engagement with an embodied notion of the archive, and her interest in questions of extractivism and overproduction.

Michelle Horrigan is an artist, curator, and co-Director of Askeaton Contemporary Arts.