Today, I experienced something totally new to me: I did a voice-over for an instructional video an artist friend is making. Fortunately, I'm also working as the script editor for the video, and had worked with the text enough to be familiar with it. I'm also quite well acquainted with the subject matter, which I'm not in a position to make public at this point, since we're in the middle of production.
I've long had the common experience of thinking the sound my own voice on tape is weird, on my recorded voice mail message, etc. But this was so different. The sound editor/engineer was a kind, gentle soul who knows what he's doing. He offered clear and helpful feedback and had a marvelous sense of humor.
Miraculously, we needed very few "do-overs". I quickly got used to hearing my voice in the headphone monitors, and was only marginally uncomfortable hearing the playback. I sat in a separate room adjacent to the recording console, and since we were working in a home studio, did not have one of those fancy glassed-in recording booths. I had the script, a light, a microphone with a windscreen, and the sound engineer's voice (rather soothing voice, actually) in my headphones. At the very beginning, I had a little adrenaline rush but with the encouragement and direction of the engineer and the artist, I soon settled in. It was FUN! I would do it again in a minute (and will, actually, as we proceed with the project). It was the kind of work that doesn't feel like work at all.
It was an oddly intimate experience, being directed through headphones by someone I could not see, but whose voice created a warm, safe, environment--kind of. Anything could have been going on in the recording room, away from my sight, and I would not know.
As a therapist in training, I often had my sessions taped--with full permission of the client--so that my supervisor and I could review it. I can think of nothing more nerve-wracking, and yet, it was all so I could learn. In my various professions, I've had to engage in public speaking, presenting papers and workshops and the like. Even with years of experience, it never got easy or comfortable. But here, where I am disconnected from another person or an audience, I was not the least bit self-conscious, and I was very comfortable.
So, this all has me thinking about making art with my voice--sound installation, video, performance, something like that. I've often felt that my development as an artist has been a lot about finding my own voice. And now I feel that I've found it. Literally.
Kicking these ideas around make me think of Bruce Nauman's video installation "Thank you thank you thank you". I'm only sorry I couldn't find a link to the installation.