Lip Sync

The one-hour black-and-white video Lip Sync shows a close-up of Bruce Nauman’s mouth, chin, and neck, recorded by a camera that was installed upside down, resulting in a strangely distorted perception of the partial face. Nauman is wearing headphones (as if listening to a text he has to lip sync) and he constantly whispers the words “lip” and “sync” in a relatively, but not entirely, regular rhythm. The audio track is not continuously synchronized with the images but departs from the exaggerated articulating movements of the lips, teeth, and tongue, which results in the performance being not in sync at all. Sometimes the rhythm evokes the impression of matching, even though it plainly does not—for instance, the whispered “sync” sits on the word “lip” formed by Nauman’s mouth. Oscillating between congruence and discrepancy, and between various aspects of articulation—the movement of the mouth and facial muscles, the sound of the voice, the corporeality of breathing and swallowing—the video in its stoical repetitiveness develops a hypnotizing tension.