Thu 25 Oct, 6.30 - 8.30pm
SPACE Mare Street
In this workshop, led by artist Chris Wood, you will clone your own voice to make a digital text-to-speech ‘voice avatar’. This will then be used in combination with short form creative writing exercises to enable your individual computer voice to speak. Throughout the workshop, we will explore what it means for a computer to borrow your voice.
The voice offers a tool with which to think through the wider issues about our emerging relationships with AIs. Speaking has become a common means of interaction with AI software and holding a conversation with a synthesised voice is a familiar trope via smartphone and home assistants. At the same time, our human voice is deeply tied to our physical bodies, with different mouth, throat and diaphragm shapes producing different voice pitch and harmonics. When the two intersect and we allow an AI to ‘borrow our voice’, we open a window to think about AI’s embodiment or lack of it. We also begin to think about the hybridity enacted by deep learning systems that are trained on enormous amounts of our personal data.
The workshop is a practical exploration of the uncanny possibilities of using voices synthesised from our own. The technique opens the possibility of ‘deep-fake’ voices, a system developed for cloning voices. It also ties into the history of ventriloquism which is familiar as a form of entertainment, but has its roots in possession and prophecy. Ultimately, by putting words in the mouth of our cloned AI voice, we will ask what happens when we untether our voices from our bodies and lend them to another system.
In the workshop we will be using a web-based service called Lyrebird. More information about the system and the company’s terms and conditions are available here: https://lyrebird.ai.
Chris Wood is a researcher and artist whose practice centres on the ways in which sensory technologies construct space, both on an individual, phenomenological level and across networks. Chris is currently undertaking SPACE’s Art + Technology residency Focus: Next which started in September 2018. Chris also works professionally as a radio producer and sound designer for the BBC and The Guardian’s Audio and Multimedia departments. He is currently completing a PhD in Media and Arts Technology at Queen Mary, University of London, and has exhibited installations and workshops internationally in Europe and North America.