The Sound Of Speech as it Echoes in the Cloud

The Sound Of Speech as it Echoes in the Cloud

2021 Eindhoven BioArts Laboratory -Dutch Design Week Mixed Media - Raspberry pi running Mycroft- speakers

Partners : Yuxi Liu, Claire Glanois, Tropozone

Photo credits : Guillaume Slizewicz

An installation questioning the notion of voice assistants.

Together With Tropozone, we created an installation questionning the notion of voice assistants. The piece is an assemblage of voice agents that invites you to reroute your attention to the overlooked, the unfamiliar, and the forgotten. Tune in one of the nodes, have a conversation, contaminate your semantic space, and start to listen and care.

Since their creation, voice assistants have been conquering our private and public spaces, from our home shelves to Hangzhou’s elevators. Reflecting normative techno-optimisation schemes, their sleek and pristine look is typically paired with a servile behavior, to fulfil a certain idea of convenience. Their answers are arid, and lack the unpredictability of regular voice interactions with a human, or even of the complexity and equivocacy of an encounter between other living beings, might they be mushrooms, insects, or pine trees. Yet, our ability to listen –commonly diluted by our densely screen-mediated routines– underpins our access to reality, and the way we relate to our surroundings.

Facing the hazard of socio-ecological emergency, it’s sensible to hope for new ways of co-inhabiting the damaged ecosystem of our Earth. How can we reroute our attention to the ruins, the unfamiliar and our relational realities? As our existing societal models have failed to ensure fertile tomorrows, we advocate to divest ourselves of our too-human systems, and develop new modes of exchange with the more- than-human worlds.

We propose to investigate how voice technologies and AI could embody ways to connect us with our environment and cultivate a practice of listening, caring and imagination.

SOS-AI-ETICS confronts us with the otherness of non-human agencies through custom voice technologies. By redesigning algorithms and conversational AI, we plan to explore novel interaction paradigms, which would emulate or speculate on non- human semantic spaces and qualities. The project takes the form of a network of AI-powered voice objects distributed across different parts of Europe. Through a set of different experiences, narratives, and installations, these voices would invite the audience to enter this assemblage i.e. listen, converse and co- evolve with it. Each of these installations aspires to delineate a path towards a “becoming with” the world.

The project encompasses a phase of research and creation, involving artists and researchers from various disciplines to exchange, conceptualise and prototype towards this goal. The second stage involves exhibitions, workshops and open-source documentation to carry on the discussion and disseminate the artworks produced.