Voicing Complexity

Voicing Complexity is an interdisciplinary project exploring the perceptual possibilities of synthetic human voice, and using human-sounding vocalisations to open up new forms of sensitivity to non-human systems and infrastructures. The work is supported thanks to S+T+ARTS AIR, an artist residency program of the European Comission that supports interdisciplinary work at the intersection of art, science and technology with a focus on holistic and human-centered ways of thinking.

In Voicing Complexity, I am seeking to build bridges between human voice and the complex ecologies of experimental computing that exist across datasets, hardware, software, land and air. The goal of this research is to create a highly immersive living composition of vocal sound, with many layers in time and space representing the supercomputing system as an ecological organism, and providing an embodied bridge between the churning complexity of a supercomputing ecosystem and a human listener immersed in sound. To accomplish this goal, we will experiment with the development of unique non-verbal AI voice instruments in collaboration with vocal artists, and new ways of composing, transforming and translating complex data of supercomputing infrastructures into expressive and spatially resonant voice(s).

Part of this work also involves research into the ways artists respond to AI voice and the ecologies around voice, such as vocal dataset creation. Voice datasets are often unseen or underplayed in the public discussion around AI, but they are the bread and butter of the contemporary AI boom. In order to create the breathing, gasping, humming synthetic voices imagined in this project, it is also important to understand the personal, legal and artistic issues at stake when vocal artists come into a relationship with synthesis systems. A vocal dataset is the documenting of an artist’s voice in a unique way, a snapshot of a specific moment in their physiological life. Yet a dataset is also something that extends beyond the artist, their body, and even might escape their control.

Working in partnership with HEKA, the spatial audio lab of PINA in Koper (Slovenia), to realize a fully immersive spatial audio experience, and with supercomputing centers in Stuttgart and Barcelona to develop connections to the many layers of hot, breathing and metabolic complexities around large-scale computing. I’m also very happy to say I’ll be working again with my colleagues at the Intelligent Instruments Lab in Rekjavik.
More announcements to come!

Image of the Mare Nostrum 4 supercomputer in Barcelona.

Category: InstallationMusicResearch