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The study of the voice has led me beyond the purpose of transferring messages between one another to investigate the fundamental connection that is generated from interaction. The Masters investigation has led me back to my childhood roots, to nature, to investigate various forms of communication amongst other species such as birds, mammals and trees finding a new appreciation in how they are connected by their interaction. I have uncovered the mechanisms some songbirds use to produce complicated song, their innate ability for intent listening and copying, the deep frequency whale calls that are the loudest sounds on the planet and the signals from 'Mother Trees' to protect their seedlings and the network within the forest. I have learnt throughout to examine my work objectively rather than relying on subjectivity.
In addition to the case studies and books researched I have drawn upon the art exhibitions which influenced the work in the final installation of the thesis. Es Devlin’s work at The Museum of Modern Art and Lubaina Himid’s sound installation had a profound effect upon my previous ideas of art and opened my mind to the possibilities of an audience moving through a space whilst immersively experiencing the work.
In the final installation Immersive theatrical techniques for instance the use of scenography, enabled an environment to be created in which the audience were transported to a natural world filled with the sounds of nature. This art and theatre installation was designed to create an experiential environment. The question was how to transition between the artistic piece into a more interactive experience. The next stage of the installation was to take the audience through a transitional forest walkway with the intention of allowing the natural sounds, scents and a continuing narrative to lull the audience into a more tranquil space.
The installation design began with a dramatised version of our own environment, via a busy soundscape and a Robot 'Ameca' her voice scripted via Garageband with vocal manipulation. Ameca, (presently a real robot developed with AI technology) delivered a specific narrative to describe the events transpiring to the current ‘Generation Z’. Generation Z is a term used to describe humans born between 1997 and 2020. The aim was to place the audience in the modern world, dramatising our current distractions, heightened by a concentrated soundscape.
Approximately 50-60 voice recordings were compiled before achieving the clarity of Ameca's message in amongst the host of other sounds, this process emphasised to me how difficult it can be to manipulate the voice technologically yet still communicate a clear message. The aim, by highlighting the distractions of our everyday lives, the advancements in technology was to create some confusion and stress how this can impact our focus. This was achieved visually by working with a website 'Storyblocks' to pull the visuals together.
A most interesting finding was that the installation highlighted the ability technology gives us to create awareness that we need to balance the pace and digital distractions we live in with other other environments for effective communication and learning.
Ameca - voiced and achieved digitally taught me about current AI technology and the advancements there. The question is are we looking to add expression in robots that humans find it hard to achieve?
The Forest Walkway - this immersive part of the installation was well received and emphasized the transition from digital to natural. How can I expand this sensory experience easily to include in further installations?
The Imax screens for immersive scenography - I felt the size of the visuals were effective, this reinforced the effect technology can achieve.
The combination of taking the audience from the first physical 'journey' into the forest space via the walkway to then convert this to a scenographic journey from forest to underground network, was a learning curve which I thoroughly enjoyed and want to repeat and improve.
Robot Ameca courtesy of Skyhound Internet 2022, voice by Morecroft S
After looking into (Syn)aesthetics by Josephine Machon and Immersive Theatres, it helped me to consider ideas of our individual, innate response to performance and to stimulating, connective communication. The walking workshops with Louise Ann Wilson also expanded the way I view theatre and art combined.
The pleasure I found combining the sounds and visuals to choreograph a transition from the forest environment to the underground network and then transition into the heartbeat to introduce a live experience as the ‘Woman of the Woods' entered the space was something I felt was effective and would like to investigate further. That link between technology and the live experience to emphasise the lack of connection to natural world.
Further reflection upon this is needed.
I hope to advance the end of the installation into an adaptable interactive vocal experiment which aims to capitalise upon the malleable audience after the installation and expand their view on taking time to stop, consider our inner connection to the sound of our surroundings, the voice and ultimately the value of empathetic communication
Further research involved
the physical theatre of Coney, Punchdrunk, and Frantic Assembly in addition to the walking workshops with Louise Ann Wilson, her artistic website and empathetic walks providing ideas for the theory and for documentation.
The Imax screens were designed to provided a 'surround' visual experience. Their size 8x4ft each, covering a total area of 16ft x 8ft emphasized the visuals of the forest and the underground fungal network of mycorrizas and were designed to impact the viewer as fully as possible. This immersed them in the environment in combination with the surround sound from the speaker system above. Many iterations of the film were trialed before the connection between the forest and underground network of tree roots was accurate enough to present.
To maximise the impact of the visuals on the large screens the set design within the 'forest space' was minimal. In contrast the 'forest walkway' full of branches, pine cones and twigs underfoot was created to enhance immersivity and provide the transition from the technological world into the natural world. Gobos and multicoloured lighting were also used to strengthen the effects of the environment as seen here.
The audience confirmed that the different experiences between the 'worlds' was tangible. Most wanted to participate within the 'live' voice communication experience with the 'woman in the woods' but some wanted to enjoy 'being in the space and watching.' The second projection at the back of the studio included falling 'matrix' rain. I wanted to use a digital visual to link the natural world with our technological world we live in. The feedback from the audience confirmed they appreciated this visual and the message I wished to convey.
I am considering for future iterations to have a clear option for the installation only, or both the installation and the 'live' interactive experience. I would like to advance this to include both more seamlessly - where the immersive experience stimulates a compelling curiosity, encouraging the audience to 'want to participate.'
The feedback from both the practical workshops in the 5PCP at John Lewis and in the final installation confirmed that according to the audience the experience 'took them back to their roots.' Another feedback comment was 'helps you branch out.'