Experimenting with Logos’ Internal Voice

The external sound is low frequency, so I thought that a relatively high-frequency voice like that of a female would contrast and stand out acoustically from the background sound, particularly when the latter increased in volume. An example of this would be the ‘everlasting’ in the Symposium 2 video


Why a single female voice?

I feel that it would be in keeping for me to record this as a female voice but using my own male voice plays with an ambivalence of timbre achieved by digital means. On a more technical level, I want the soft female voice to cut through the noise coming from the subwoofers.

Another alternative would be to give Logos manifold voices. The thing is to experiment with different combinations. It could be argued that a single voice would imply an individuality fostering a direct connection. On the other hand, many voices could signify a wider community/society, humanity even but lose on the way some of its intimacy. At least I have the option for either.

Scripting Decisions

The scripting is another point of decision making. For now, I have opted for short phrases or words to beckon the person closer. These are perhaps more distinguishable from the surrounding environment and convey meaning more clearly than having to stand there listening to a long monologue. This is an area that offers a great deal of flexibility. Again, I lean towards a female voice, but it is not a deal-breaker. I also think that the higher frequencies contained in sibilance or whispering are directional, pointing directly to the sculpture as their source and cut through the omnidirectional sounds from the subwoofer low-frequency sounds.

The origins of the sounds

All the sounds in Logos are made using my voice. Firstly using my voice allows for a broad field of experimentation on altering sound which can be applied to other field and synthesised recording. Secondly, it is consistent with my idea of transformation. (Each step is like a mutation: I work heuristically until something works. This, however, differs from an evolutionary system in that it is wholely purpose-led. In the future, it would be interesting to look at generating sounds stochastically which then fall into niches, predetermined or not, that allows them to be saved and used. The criterion for choice could be many, aesthetic, content, fit for a purpose which the process is blind to. This reminds me of Latham’s work with computer-generated ‘life’.)

Altering sounds

The following samples were made by recording my voice, which is a baritone, and applying a number of filters in audacity to achieve the sought after effect, these were:

  • change pitch
  • reverb
  • echo
  • distortion hard limiter
  • Normaliser

Having applied the echo, some phonemes repeat in an unnatural fashion, a little like a stutter. I delete these out at points of zero amplitude.

Sample voices and words

The permutations are almost endless. The results can change meaning, context and response.

Limitations to these experiments what to do next

Without the completed sculpture, I am unable to experiment and test how its internal chamber might affect sound. And therefore these samples act only as an indication of how I would imagine the sounds to be.

The words, ‘come nearer, come near, don’t touch me’ are deliberately intructive. They are chosen for their relevant to still sculpture. They could change, evolve. With the use of various sensors, voices could be activated in response to different viewer actions or positions. For example, code could be applied to one voice that was activated to stepping away with words such as, ‘come back, don’t go, don’t leave’.

Thinking this through, this acoustic device could be applied to any still sculpture. Therein lies an interesting piece of research. From monolith to complex installation to screen, the conceptual device gives the work an agency that still, silent or ‘scripted narrative’ often do not have. It addresses the viewer directly and might give the semblance of a limited intersubjectivity even if the visitor knows it for what it is. This is an interesting exploration in itself which also leads to the use of AI. Now that could be an interesting collaboration with someone.


I have composed a sample simulation with the low sound destined for the subwoofer and the sibilant voice for the sculpture’s interior. It is a short, programmatic piece where the viewer is beckoned to approach, then move away a little before leaving altogether. The subwoofers can be head reacting to her proximity while the voice from within the sculpture speaks.

Installation simulation

To listen to the full effect please do so on ear or headphones. This last sample, if listened to on laptop or tablet speaker, demonstrates the difference between low and higher frequencies. The speakers on such devices are unable to deliver the low vibrations. This is what makes it possible to combine the two soundtrack types.

Why use use Audacity?

There are many DAWs and programmes for altering sound recordings and generating them from scratch: Cakewalk, Audition, Reaper, Ableton, etc. Each one offers a particular advantage. Audacity is the first programme I go to for two reasons: familiarity and directness. It was one of the first programmes I used, it is free, open-source and very flexible. What you can do with most other sound software you can do with Audacity. However, its disadvantages are various. It works with a destructive process, that is to say, you cannot go back to previous states once saved so you have to save versions as you go along. This makes for an untidy and complex file system. Another disadvantage is that the plugins available are not always very sophisticated which means you have to work harder to achieve a given aim. This is not altogether bad in itself, it makes me think about what I am doing. However, the finness of parameters is not always there. Although other software offers other things that Audacity cannot give, it is my first port of call whenever I work with a sound recording.


Although I have explored working binaurally and used it in an instance in the symposium video, there is not really a space for it in this installation: it could prove distracting. However, I look forward to employing this in purely acoustic work.

Low-Frequency Track for Logos

An ongoing experiment in low frequency for intergration with Logos.

My aim is to produce a low-frequency sound that does not interfere with other sounds by reducing the detail of content but keeping it rich in texture.

A prime concern is to create a physical response without discomfort. It is very easy to produce nausea with low frequencies as it can disturb the balance organs in the ears. This ethical consideration is part of the installation’s risk assessment

The track is twenty three-and-a-half minutes long and looped. The following are brief samples taken from the same area of the track demonstrating some of the steps taken to reach the final mix.

I started with a basic sound generated with the voice projected into one of the sculpture’s (Logos) forms. The file was stretched, lowered the pitch and reverbed trying not to lose texture.

A lot of parameters and steps are involved in this process and experimenting with respective levels of gain is an important aspect of the work.

Original mastered track

I then produced a duplicate track and reduced the pitch to around 68 Hz.

Track with pitch shift to 68 Hz

I also applied a 3 Hz shift between the left and the right channels to create an almost imperceptible pulse.

I tried one at 20Hz but the level of discomfort was far too noticeable. It also did not create the relatively smooth texture I was looking for.

Track with pitch shift to 20Hz

The plan is to send the left and right channels each to one of two subwoofers so that they subtlely interact with one another.

The idea is for the sound to increase as the viewer approaches the work, not too much so as to create alarm or discomfort, but enough to act as a form of membrane barrier working against the softer sounds emanating from the sculpture itself.

I mixed duplicate tracks, balanced the levels of the original so that they are barely audible but add texture to the sound.

I compressed the files quite heavily to even out natural fluctuation in the voice and render smooth the proximity sensor-activated volume changes. The tracks were normalised to -3 dB

Final mix down

This final sample simulates a visitor approaching the sculpture, moving away a little return again before leaving the sensor field.

Exhibition simulation

Finally, the track is put onto a media player hooked up to the Arduino coupled with the sensor. I explored doing this during Unit 1 last year.

Creating a Binaural Headset

The theory behind making a binaural microphone system is pretty straight forward. Geeks might argue over which is the best set, the £6000 one or the latest in ear gear. If binaural is going to be listened to over the internet using some average head or earphones, then I imagine that the following plan would work well enough.

The idea of doing this came when looking at the Whatsapp conversation in the ‘fineartdigital’ group. Friederike has posted some binaural pop tracks which were so effective that it really did sound as thought the music were coming from outside the head and not in the ear.

The effect is not only due to the proximity of the sound being recorded nearer one microphone than its stereo other. This panning alone can be done in a sound editor, but it results in a rather flat movement from one side to the other.

The art of creating a spatial effect is somewhat more complicated than simply panning. For it to be as true to life as possible, the gain (or volume) of the sound does not alter all that much as in panning. I noticed as much in the Friederike’s music track. This made me think as to what else could be causing this effect.

If one ear is closer to the source of the sound than the other, and there is little or no connection between the two ears on account of a dense head being between the two, then the only other reason for the spatial effect must be the time it takes for the sound to reach either ear.

The nearest ear to the source will receive the sound a fraction of a second before the other ear. Perhaps as little as 1 millisecond. This delay then creates the sense of space as the brain triangulates the location of the source with respect to the head. And as the source moves further away from the microphones, the gain also diminishes and gives the sensation of being placed further away, or further outside the head.

How clear this effect is probably depends not only on the arrangement of the microphones but also their quality. But as I mentioned above, I think a pair of average lavelier microphones would do.

All this could be achieved in an editor or digital audio workstation or DAW. However, the amount of work in graduating not only the panning but the delay would make this a very complex task. Perhaps there is some software out there that can achieve the same thing but I suspect that most if not all such recordings are produced using a binaural setup rather than in postproduction. Post production could be used, however, to enhance the effect.

One of two microphones ordered today – chosen for its dynamic range for its class in relation to price.

I could build a binaural recording setup with two lavelier microphones, the Zoom H5 recorder as a preamp and some other bits and bobs. These would include: a dense material with which to simulate the width and mass of the head to isolate one mic from the other. The mics would have to be placed one head width apart. And I could fashion something resembling ears to act as actual ears and simulate the directionality of the listening organ.

I know of set ups which use a polystyrene head. I think there are better materials that can be used. Polystyrene is nowhere near as dense as a head and beside, the whole thing become unwieldy and silly looking. There is a set that can be bought which consists of a rectangular material one head width apart with very large, what appear to be, silicon ears. It is very expensive so I imagine that what maters is the distance apart and the density of the intervening mass to create the right amount of isolation.

The microphones have to be mono, which laveliers usual are and most importantly omnidirectional. Apparently electrotet mics are the ones to use. These are small so they need a preamp hence the Zoom. I could buy the mic capsules, but this would involve me in having to rig circuits with resitors and jackets and what have you. It really is not worth the trouble: it would only save a few pence and I would end up spending valuable time building the mics from scratch.

I could experiment with the ear configurations and make say, jackal’s ears – what the divine Anubis heard in the tomb!


Sound from Far and Within



I have been recording the sounds that the sculptural components collect from their surroundings and reprocess within their space. This leads me to think about how sounds might behave when coming from within.

The final work will be a complex of interconnected internal spaces. How might these behave? How will this behaviour be affected by how components are connected? Is this relevant to the overall thesis; might this be an effective layering of meaning; confusing the issue; better used in some other context?

I continue to experiment and think about future works as the process of making evolves.

Randomness and Contingency

Predictability arises out of unpredictability. This strikes at the core of the apparent contradictions between the infinitesimal at the quantum level and the macro-scale that we experience. What we see around us, experience, perceived reality, is actually made of countless random events that when massed together even out to a mean across a distribution curve. This counterintuitive thinking is allied to that of the accumulated contingent events giving the impression of inevitability, of purpose. What I see as hindsight is the result of such things falling into place and shaping my expectation of future events. Probability and randomness are close cousins. We have not evolved to think in such terms but with certainty. I have mentioned this before. Certainty ensures that the tiger hidden in the undergrowth does not eat you.

This video on Aeon a couple of weeks ago explores this counterintuitive world, the construction of meaning from something ultimately meaningless. A Borgesian library of possibilities extending infinitely in all directions and all we can do is stay in one room with one book and pore over it, re-arranging its letters like some Aristotle playing with syllogisms of what we might call truth. Every so often, a page offers up an image, a sound, a feel, a touch that fills this existence with more than a desperate fear of dissolution or the delirious joy of survival. It can sing a song of love of existence and the world.

This thinking has given me an idea for ‘composing’ the sound element for Enshrinement. It is a way of amalgamating sacred and secular text in a holistic expression in different voices. Meaning is deconstructed and reconstructed stochastically, a new sense is made from the combination of chaos and randomness. Perhaps this says something about our humanity having arisen out of the chaos of creation.

I am here touching on some of the elements I hinted at in Grappling with the Angel earlier this year. It deals with words, focusing on a single work and letting others orbit under its influence. This has given rise to the video I composed today for the pop-up show Entanglement going up next week. I have not used the video as a medium but rather as a sensitive tool. For this reason, I choose to work with the software Vinci Resolve which is simple to use but allows me to employ just the right amount of technical devices to get the message across.

Assessing Nuances and Focus


I have finished another component of Enshrinement, one of the main works for the final show. there is still so much to do. There is not only the modelling and finishing but firing, setting and mounting, audio and its embedding, testing, packing, photography and so on. As I work on the pieces, ideas come to me and it is hard to stay on the path. I bear in mind what Jonathan says in his Unit 1 Assessment:

As you continue to experiment, adding sound and possibly interaction from the audience, remain flexible, adaptable and willing to discard elements if they don’t absolutely meet your exacting standards or the purpose you need them to fulfil. Obviously, there will continue to be surprising and exciting discoveries that may suggest other paths to explore, choose wisely which to follow. Not everything needs to be resolved in the timespan of the masters, many ideas and concepts will need to continue way beyond the next 8 months.

What I get from this is that I can simplify, clarify, focus my intentions on a single moment and radiate other ideas across many other moments. To realise that the final show is only one moment of many and not try to bring all notions to bear on one single point. So many ideas have come to me over the past months that I have to remind myself of this. I feel the freedom to not complicate matters is a luxury but it is, in fact, a necessity. Fortunately, the core idea is flexible enough to allow me to nuance the work in different ways. The common thread that has led me here is strong enough to withstand such turns of perspective. Above all, I must not confuse things by overcomplicating them.

Jonathan also mentioned that,

… building on a granular approach to time-based media could be a way for you to move forward with your sound work.

This statement underlines an aspect of the work which I have been thinking about. The granularity of the audio takes me back to Ed’s workshop last year. How linear things can be fragmented and reformed to create a different sense of the same content. This idea is consistent with much of what I have been thinking. Breaking the sound and reconstructing it either as a composition, stochastically or most probably a bit of both. This could be a way to introduce the sound element in Enshrinement. The intention would be to trickle notions into the inferences catalysed by the sculptural forms. This is a form of nuance and I feel the acoustic source material is important but less so in the context of the whole: it must serve its function. Is the approach I am taking led by process or content? I feel I am having to carefully pick my way between the two. Making those choices is a honing of two sides of a blade I constantly cut myself on: intended meaning and constructed inference. Central to all this, however, is making and experimenting.

The wrapping above was incidental rather than experimental. It was to keep the porcelain from drying out. But as Jonathan says, there will be ‘surprises and discoveries’ which need to be thought of carefully and used wisely. I do not have time to ramble as in the past fourteen months. It is not easy as I continually work with a paradox, that is, to clarify through ambiguity and ambiguity by definition can lead in many directions. Jonathan pointed this out by quoting me back:

Reality is smooth and simultaneous, granular and causal.

I had forgotten I said this and had to think hard what I meant. Things appear to be infinitely and infinitesimally connected however distant they might be. There is a sequentiality to events, yet things connected happen at the same time. Matter and time can be broken down into component parts, parts of a whole without disconnecting from it. Science tells us this, matter and time are continuous while things are broken into quanta and quarks, and those into strings and granular gravity. The world is split and whole, we experience reality yet we cannot know the true nature of things as we are locked in our way of perceiving. Light appears to behave as discrete particles and continuous smooth waves at one and the same time. Predictability is the illusion of massed random events and the moment at which an inevitable catastrophe on a large scale ensues cannot be pinpointed with any accuracy if at all.

Wrapping inflects the work in a powerful way, as a sacrifice, enigma, suffocation, preciousness; an ambiguity that raises questions and sets me to think deeply about what I am seeing. I also see that it might allow the sound element in the installation to breath; the sound’s granularity permeating the continuous material forms. The sound may or may not be sequential, intended towards a narrative that cannot sit still, being contingent, balanced on the knife’s edge of an imputed catastrophe. A catastrophe made by humans but in the making long before we were ever here: the laws of the universe are immutable.

NB Wrapping reminds me of visiting the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nice where there are a number of drawings and maquettes by Christo who worked with his wife Jeanne-Claude.

Link: https://christojeanneclaude.net/