Image courtesy of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

Explore the elusive nature of the human voice at a major exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, on now until 28 January 2018.

Blending science, technology, art and performance, This is a Voice explores how the unique grain of our voice locates us socially, geographically and psychologically and how the voice is utterly flexible and can be altered with treatment and training.

Designed as an acoustic journey, the exhibition invites you to delve inside vocal tracts, restless minds and speech devices to discover how meaning and emotions are conveyed through the patterns of rhythm, stress and intonation.

The exhibition presents works by Australian and international artists, including London-based artist Anna Barham, whose inclusion in the exhibition and engagement in public programs is supported by the British Council. 

Anna's video work Liquid Consonant, presents a digitally animated head ‘speaking’ sounds. As it rotates, the sensually modelled lips give way to a cold synthetic cavity where tongue and teeth form Greek words containing the rolled ‘r’ sound of the letter ‘rho’ prominent in Greek words describing motion, such as current, flow and whirling. Blocks of sound issue in place of words, questioning the possibility of a correspondence between sounds made by the fleshy apparatus of the mouth and their meaning. 

We have also supported the production of digital materials surrounding This is a Voice, with four online interviews with UK-based artists and scientists included as part of the exhibition. The videos explore the voice from different perspectives, from how we use laughter to bond and play with others to laughter as a sculptural material that can be stretched and manipulated like clay. You can watch the range of videos at the bottom of this page.

This is a Voice is a Wellcome Collection exhibition produced in collaboration with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS).

Wellcome Collection Curator Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz says: 

“The voice is one of our key identifying features; most of us use it daily and spontaneously, however its nature is far more abstract, uncanny even. It originates within us, both bodily and inside our minds, but voices can also seemingly come from nowhere, making it a deeply absorbing topic for vocalists, anthropologists, artists, scientists and philosophers alike. Focusing on non-linguistic and experimental uses of the voice, this highly performative exhibition is a quest to give form to this ambiguous creature and reveal the emotions that resonate within it.”

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