16 / 11 / 02 – 15 / 12 / 02
Exhibition / Films / Talks / Performance

Ruta Remake (2002)
Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas (LT)

Transaction Voice Archive

"Women's Interviews" (Excerpts)
"Playing Ruta.. and Listening", Otto Kränzler

see also: "Transaction" Project, 10 / 2000


Transaction Voice Archive

Provoked by the notion of “the absence of women’s voices”, the Transaction project works to map out relations concerning a politics of identity in the Lithuania of today. It seeks out representations that do not fall back on the securities offered by nationalist stereotypes, but which are linked to the creation of identities in the search for shaping new options. These are suggested as the play between types and forms, ranging from the remainders of the 'Homo Sovieticus' thru the Modern Capitalist Models.

The Transaction Voice Archive is a collection of audio samples of women's voices in the Lithuanian media. The search list for this collection is a compilation of the actual references made by Lithuanian women intellectuals and producers during interviews with the artists.

The Transaction project and Ruta Remake joins writers, linguists, semioticians, music theorists, singers, and activists to investigate the role of the women's voice in the construction of a 'victim scenario' in the sense intended in Transactional Analysis philosophy. Trying to find the body in the voice, and to isolate within it some utopian pleasure, the projects play with the dichotomy between sound and voice, voicing and language, “becoming” and “being”. Through the shared recollections of media they build a pathway that navigates between past and present.

The resulting Transaction Voice Archive reflects a social construction and metaphysical qualities, featuring sets of samples ranging from speech and narratives to a chanting and songs.


The investigation of the voicescape leads to the phenomenon of the "ether-wave", suggested by Lev Termin (1896 - 1980), who in 1921 created the Thereminvox, one of the first high-frequency electronic instruments, which generated sounds similar to singing voices. The beat-frequency audio box emitted a single tone whose pitch and volume was controlled by the motion and proximity of the performer’s hands over and around a circular wire and the vertical antenna.

The Ruta Remake project focuses on the voice / vox, and begins by updating the original Thereminvox by a 'theramidi' device. This device is designed for a user's hand to mediate between sets of acoustic samples by means of two light-sensitive resistors linked through a midi-interface. The hands movement within light casts shadows, which register output and representation analogous to a film negative. The hands re-collect the absence of voices, shaping and creating in such a way that they become both mapping and notational device. Thus the new theramidi based navigation allows the user as a performer/director to chart through the sound archive of voices in a real time weaving of the dialogue lines into determined patterns that compose a sound fabric.


Transaction participants, Ruta Baciulyte, psychologist and Ruta Gostautiene, musicologist/semiotician suggested two methods to re- collect the voices. These methods lead from two perspectives at once - the first routes from the construction of social and behavior patterns that constitute the present state of mind of the transition period, whereas the second re-routed the initial search from a discussion on the timbre of the voice to writing, to weaving, where ultimately the concept of a soundscape grows into a garden of language.

In this context, Ruta Baciulyte and Ruta Gostautiene suggested a specific weaving pattern named "ruta" (Ruta / rue) that refers to a perennial plant having a strong, heavy odor and a bitter taste; also known as a 'herb of grace'. In Lithuania this pattern was imbued with different meanings, such that over the course of time it has as well routed through gardens and common language to become an icon representing virginity and femininity – despite the reputed efficacy of the plant in inducing abortions.

Lithuanian patriarchal tradition has framed a space for muting women’s voices, in which weaving is regarded as writing, and singing as a way of story-telling. This performative aspect was employed by ideologies to make the women’s voice represent the motherland, or later to signify consumer society. While it can be said today that a contemporary spirit among women producers also focuses on the voice, it is one where the oral works to reclaim meanings occupied by a patriarchal society and liberal ideologies.

The Transaction Voice Archive is understood to shape a geographical terrain through samples. In Ruta Remake, the ruta pattern is selected to provide a system for a sound notation, a shuttle for composing the voice threads of the archive, as lines of information and as routes, joined in patterns that unpack relationships between voice and language.