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Students in Kenny Goldsmith’s class are working to define “queer voice” in art — which Goldsmith said nobody has been able to do easily.

In the class, called “Transcribing the wor(l)d,” undergraduates collaborate with the Institute of Contemporary Art for an exhibit that illustrates “queer voice” in art.

Every year, the class and the ICA produce a publication based on students’ writings. Although the journal topic changes each year, this year’s will be published in conjunction with the ICA’s exhibition “Queer Voice.” Both the journal and the exhibition will be accessible late next semester.

ICA Senior Curator Ingrid Schaffner described in an e-mail that the exhibition will focus on the work of approximately six artists. The artists will span three generations, from the 1960’s, when new technology popularized audio-tape recording, to the present, when “the strangeness of hearing one’s own voice is increasingly part of internet and digital culture.”

“It draws out a cross-generational conversation around queer identity and non-oppositional representations of gender,” Schaffner wrote, explaining that a subjective voice can be made up of both male and female attributes.

She added that “Queer Voice” is a subject that “lends itself especially well [to] the seminar’s independent investigation of writing through transcription.”

In his course, Goldsmith emphasizes the artistic significance and process of transcription. “The way one person transcribes anything in the world,” he said, “will always be different from the way another person transcribes it. The collaboration involves applying concepts from transcription to understanding the queer voice.”

College sophomore Lily Applebaum, a student in the class, noted that the term “queer” today could involve being “undefinable.”

“We are automatically interested in the voice that raises an undefined opinion,” she said.

According to Applebaum, the class has done many transcription exercises — including transcribing to and from audio, written and visual mediums — methods which may play a role in the final publication.

Schaffner wrote that the collaboration with Goldsmith’s class was a “generative discourse” about “themes, artists, ideas and approaches.”

The class participated in a discussion with the ICA to answer the question, “What is queer voice?” Schaffner believes the conversation helped her clarify what to address in the show.

She added that though the issue of the artist’s sexual identity came up, “the show is not about outing individuals.”

The class was also interested in what might make the exhibition itself “queer … as a viewing experience,” she wrote.

But according to Goldsmith, nobody knows what “queer voice” means.

“The exciting thing about what we’re doing is that we’re trying to hammer out a definition,” he said. “It might not have to do with gender or sexuality, it might also be ‘oddness.’”

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