The visualisation of speech Introduction
This project attempts to visualise speech using simple granular materials reacting to the sound of the human voice.
Context and audience
This project is concerned with the visualisation of sound. It was initially driven by my bilingual Greek/English background, and my unexplained tendency to subdivide words (or create new words with multiple meanings) using Greek and English vocabulary. My experiments began by tracing mouth movements using paint on paper to observe the shape that the mouth makes, when articulating each letter of the English alphabet. Further experimentation included recording various people speaking the alphabet using specific phrases to observe the difference between graphic representations of sound waves.
I used a variety of voices from different genders and cultural backgrounds from a mix of Greek and English speakers. My speakers were given two sentences, commonly used in elocution, which represent smooth and more powerful phraseology.
My finished project consists of the visualisation of my sound recordings. Sound is physical so I filmed the movement of granulated materials (cinnamon, salt, baby powder and coffee grains) on a thin surface placed on an amplifier reacting to my spoken recordings. My aim has been to open up the visualisation of speech to a wider audience through the communication of the shape, movement and rhythm of language to visually represent the difference in speech patterns. An important influence has been the work of Hans Jenny, ‘Cymatics’.
Methodology and research
My work involved observing how different kinds of granular material reacts to sound. The outcome involved the audiovisual recording of voice and materials using still and video camera and recording equipment. Contextual reference included art and design works relating to visual representation and the notation of sound and music.