What can you do with your voice?
Press release / Published: 12 February 2013
Explore the unexpected qualities of your vocal cords at Wellcome Collection’s late event. Sounds of chattering, squawking and singing will fill Wellcome Collection as the building opens late (19.00-23.00) on Friday 1 March for The Voice, a fascinating night of talks, activities and performance, celebrating the extraordinary beauty of this everyday instrument.
How do we make the sounds of speech, and what's the role of our upright gait? Rediscover the wonder of the voice with neuroscientist Professor Sophie Scott before contemplating a future in which we converse with artificial agents and robot companions with speech technologist Roger K Moore. Tales of ventriloquism, telepathy and the legend of "his master's voice" will be told by composer Sarah Angliss as she explores the early history of recorded sound.
Artist Mikhail Karikis will perform a new site-specific work for voices, which maps the body through sound. Devised with the Wellcome Trust staff choir, the piece explores how a range of vocal frequencies resonate across the body. Visitors can stretch their own glottis as they take part in an interactive installation created entirely from voices and sounds collected throughout the evening by Incidental using their innovative Feed music app.
Ever wondered how we make vowel sounds? The curious-minded will be able to build a replica vocal tract and investigate the mechanics and phenomenon of speech through live demonstrations with scientists from UCL, the University of Sheffield and the University of Sussex.
Neuroscientist Sam Clarke will explore the "working voice" with a cabaret of vocal professionals. Visitors can experience yodelling, pick up tips from a vocal coach, hear how audio description brings the world to life, and marvel at a sports commentator's patter. Meanwhile, the itinerant Jonathan P Watts will be hailing listeners as he explores the history of the London street cry through a series of live readings, and radio collective In the Dark will be dimming the lights for a night of stories told through recorded sound.
From sweet nothings to hot gossip, visitors will also be able to find a friend and make a call with some tin-can retro technology, participate in a walkie-talkie conversation devised by artists Townley and Bradby, get up close to an incognito opera singer, and meet Charlie the parrot and his handler. Visitors should listen carefully and prepare to be misdirected by poets Holly Pester and Daniel Rourke, who will be delivering acoustic surprises throughout the evening.
James Wilkes, poet and curator of The Voice, says: "The voice is at the same time utterly ordinary - almost everyone uses theirs every day - and wonderfully strange. This evening brings some of that strangeness to life as it explores the science and culture of the voice".
Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes at Wellcome Collection says: "Our voices are, arguably, our most powerful and evocative instrument, and yet many of us take them for granted. In a vocal extravaganza, The Voice will inspire a new appreciation for this remarkable attribute and offer a stimulating social gathering, in tune with our programme of all-building spectaculars."
Join us to explore the unexpected qualities of your vocal cords at The Voice at Wellcome Collection from 19.00 to 23.00 on Friday 1 March. Entry is free. Drop in any time. Talks will be ticketed; tickets will be available on the night from 19.00. A bar will be open throughout the event.
Wellcome Collection is at 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE. The nearest Tube stations are Euston and Euston Square.
The Voice is curated by poet James Wilkes and researchers Alice Carey and Sally Davies. James is currently poet-in-residence at UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.