Frequency and the Feminine:
Drone, Flow, Vibrators
a presentation by Amalle Dublon and Aliza Shvarts
Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 7pm
Girls never end and that’s their beauty; shoot one down and one even younger pops up in her place.
—Laurie Weeks “Debbie’s Barium Swallow” in The New Fuck You: Adventures in Lesbian Reading, 145
The inside as an operation of the outside: […] as if the ship were a folding of the sea.
—Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, 97
Recent scholarship has posited vibration as the being of matter, both the ground (or more precisely, the quake) from which it emerges and the motion which constitutes its excess. In other words, vibration is the term by way of which matter is movement and vice versa, an ontology that irresolves the relationship between figure and ground.
We propose that frequency—a rate of periodic recurrence, the speed or slowness of which, in the field of sound, determines audibility—encompasses the iterated time of rhythm and the continuous durational drone of vibration. Following Leopoldina Fortunati, we understand the feminine as the reassuring guarantee (within capitalism) of an unlimited supply of “undifferentiated” time and reproductive capacity. Yet we acknowledge that the figure of infinitely renewable reproduction is also imagined as an abjected threat, and that the monstrosity of the feminine inheres in its uncontrolled reproduction.
Our intervention here is to understand reproduction itself as frequency — again, encompassing both the discipline of periodic rhythm and the duration of the measureless drone. We argue that what has been termed an “ontology of vibrational force” is really conditioned by an uncited philosophical precedent: the feminine as the name, substance, and operation of reproduction. Drawing on music, film, Marxist feminism, aesthetic theory, and performance art, we suggest that frequency operates in space and time as a fold, an invaginative movement that yields form.
Amalle Dublon is a PhD student in the Program in Literature at Duke University. Her dissertation deals with sound and sexual difference. She was a 2010-2011 critical studies fellow at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. She is a member of the editorial collective of Women & Performance, a journal of feminist theory.
Aliza Shvarts is a PhD student in Performance Studies at NYU, where she writes on figuration, failure, and doom. Her artwork has been shown at the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia, at the LOOP International Film Festival in Barcelona, and at the Tate Modern in London. She currently edits “Ampersand,” the experimental section of Women & Performance.