Rouge (1956) - originally released in 1980 by Hundertmark
Vibrespace (1963) originally released in 1964 on OU #20/21
Double Extension (1970) - originally released in 1980 by Hundertmark
Hoppa Bock (1970) - originally released in 1980 by Hundertmark
Jouissance des lévres (1983) - originally released in 1983 by Artalect Editions
9 saintes-phonies (1984/1987) - first released here
Voyage in California (1983) - originally released in 1983 by Artalect Editions
Chopin was a French practitioner of concrete and sound poetry, well known throughout the second half of the 20th century. His work, though iconoclastic, remained well within the historical spectrum of poetry as it moved from a spoken tradition to the printed word and now back to the spoken word again (Wendt 1996, 112). He created a large body of pioneering recordings using early tape recorders, studio technologies and the sounds of the manipulated human voice. His emphasis on sound is a reminder that language stems as much from oral traditions as from classic literature, of the relationship of balance between order and chaos.
Chopin is significant above all for his diverse spread of creative achievement, as well as for his position as a focal point of contact for the international arts. As poet, painter, graphic artist and designer, typographer, independent publisher, filmmaker, broadcaster and arts promoter, Chopin’s work is a barometer of the shifts in European media between the 1950s and the 1970s (Goldsmith n.d., 178–79)
In 1966 he was with Gustav Metzger, Otto Muehl, Wolf Vostell, Peter Weibel and others a participant of the Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS) in London (Solodyankina 2015).
In 1964 he created OU, one of the most notable reviews of the second half of the 20th century, and he ran it until 1974. OU’s contributors included William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Gil J Wolman, François Dufrêne, Bernard Heidsieck, John Furnival, Tom Phillips, and the Austrian sculptor, writer and Dada pioneer Raoul Hausmann.
His books included Le Dernier Roman du Monde (1971), Portrait des 9 (1975), The Cosmographical Lobster (1976), Poésie Sonore Internationale (1979), Les Riches Heures de l’Alphabet (1992) and Graphpoemesmachine (2006). Henri also created many graphic works on his typewriter: the typewriter poems (also known as dactylopoèmes) feature in international art collections such as those of Francesco Conz in Verona, the Morra Foundation in Naples and Ruth and Marvin Sackner in Miami, and have been the subject of Australian, British and French retrospectives (Acquaviva 2008).
His publication and design of the classic audio-visual magazines Cinquième Saison and OU between 1958 and 1974, each issue containing recordings as well as texts, images, screenprints and multiples, brought together international contemporary writers and artists such as members of Lettrisme and Fluxus, Jiri Kolar, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Tom Phillips, Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs and many others, as well as bringing the work of survivors from earlier generations such as Raoul Hausmann and Marcel Janco to a fresh audience.
From 1968 to 1986 Henri Chopin lived in Ingatestone, Essex, but with the death of his wife Jean in 1985, he moved back to France.
In 2001 with his health failing, he returned to England, living with his daughter and family at Dereham, Norfolk until his death on 3 January 2008 (Acquaviva 2008).
Henri Chopin, les 9 saintes-phonies: a retrospective
(Amsterdam: Staalplaat STCD 070/Korm Plastics KP 4694, 1994).
Compliation curated by John Hudak, and contains an interview of Chopin done by Hudak in 1990, as well as essays about Chopin by Hugh Davies, Sten Hanson, Larry Wendt, and Nicholas Zurbrugg. There is Internet availability for this CD.
Beginning in the late fifties, Henri Chopin created on the tape recorder, multilayered works for ‘vocal micro-particles’ and ‘buccal instances’ which he called poésie sonore. One of the originals, Chopin has also been a primary supporter of sound poetry in the world since that time. He published the first review in France devoted to audiopoems as an art with his Cinquième Saison (nineteen issues from 1958 to 1961), and he did the first international review on sound poetry with his Review OU (thirteen issues between 1964 to 1972). OU was a unique assemblage of concrete poetry, manifestoes, objects of art, and records (eleven in all) containing the works of many of the major practitioners of electro-acoustic poetry of that period. He is also responsible in 1990 of getting poésie sonore in the Encyclopaedia universalis, the great French literary atlas.
While experimenting with visual poetry and other more traditional avant-garde forms, Chopin discovered the unique potentials of the tape recorder. With such a device, he reasoned, the poem no longer needed to be entombed within the confines of the page. He was not so much seeking the ‘word made flesh’ like some poets, but rather he was looking for the ‘flesh which is sound’: the poetic utterance stripped down to its bare essentials like the indigestible ‘stone’ from a piece of fruit. A rendered articulation which exists starkly, ready to blossom into a wild and tangled celebration of its own existence as an act of shear human power.