A posthuman voice

When reflecting on the posthuman at work in art, the music-industry immediately came to mind. Many contemporary music-productions are based on systematic calculations. Artists like Daft Punk and Kraftwerk express themselves in computer-like sounds. Even the voice has succumbed to this technical approach in the form of auto-tune, which is a tendency I will focus on in this paper. Linked are Daft Punk as an example; watch?v=Q5l2ChAqRDg

Auto-tune is a technology debuted in 1997. Originally its purpose was to correct a singer’s pitch. However artists quickly found new use of the tool in its capability to transform the human voice into something different and strange, thus changing its status from a correctional tool to an aesthetics choice. The human artist is not just human anymore but forms a whole with the machine. Exactly this turn-around on our normal conception of human is something defining the posthuman in general. It breaks down all manners of dualism in this case human/machine and force us to rethink our conception of human.

Furthermore the use of auto-tune points back to the artist’s own shortcomings, at the artists as non-perfect. As Herbrechter writes: “Central is the decentralization of the human and post anthropocentric worldview. Here focus is moved away from the human as the only subject of importance, towards a focus on the interrelatedness of the human and non-human form of agency.” (Herbrechter 2003:41)

The human is not necessarily central for the artwork anymore. By extension of that, the art questioning what constitutes subjectivity and creativity.

Auto-tune becomes an expression of the posthuman and an investigation into what the transhuman voice is: “Art, then, and the whole image-making drive may be means for preparing man for physical and mental changes which he will in time make upon himself.” (Burnham 1987: 366)

When we listen to the posthuman in our contemporary life through the popular music the strangeness/otherness that the posthuman is, becomes familiar to us. Maybe pop music have the ability to make us accept the strangeness of the posthuman and face that the posthuman is

not something which comes around after the human as the term indicate, but something well known. As Foucault notions: The endof man is not the finally of the human, but the final of our conception of it.



Burnham, Jack, 1987:  “The Future of Responsive Systems in Art”, from Burnham, Beyond Modern Sculpture: The Effects of Science and Technology on the Sculpture of this Century, New York: George Braziller, 1987 [1967], pp. 359-76.

Herbrechter, Stefan 2013: “Towards a critical posthumanism”, from Posthumanism: A critical analysis, London: Bloomsbury.


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Mads Rosendahl Thomsen

Very important. We will be interacting with so many “sound alike” but non-human voices now and in the years to come.

Jelica Veljovic
Hello Katherine, I liked your post very much because it is exactly what was on my mind too. Especially the fact that you have chosen the photo of Duft Punk, because their public immage is so posthuman. Anyway, I only wanted to tell you that it is possible to broaden this topic, generally speaking about all different types of electronic music, and how the acoustic has now grown into electronic! It is not that only we humans are becoming enhanced – it also our instruments that we are enhancing, and therefore enhancing the whole field of our creation. Someone speaks… Read more »