An interactive, audio-visual installation composed of fifty cyanotypes, a microphone, and a machine projecting a laser onto an opposing wall, Units of Sound was developed in response to the growing concern that my practice was becoming too reliant on text as the mechanism through which the viewer understands the work.
The project builds on previous investigations into language and the recycling of information into new forms, but is the first instance in which I have made a device capable of producing images and then exhibited this device alongside what it has produced - the hope being that this artifact, rather than a block of text, would act as the key conceptual entry point for the viewer.
The composition and functioning of the machine is as follows:
A small mirror is attached to a flexible membrane and positioned in front of a speaker, a laser is directed towards the mirror and a sound played through the speaker. This sound creates a distinct set of vibrations in the membrane, which in turn move the mirror, and the reflection of the laser changes position. This movement can then be captured by placing a sheet of photographic paper in front of the moving laser beam.
This process was repeated for each phoneme in the english language, the resulting cyanotypes becoming a visual atlas of one person’s speech. Whilst appearing to be purely abstract forms, the projection of the laser from the machine, undulating in time with whatever is inputted to the microphone, immediately makes apparent that the audible has become visible. That these seemingly unrecognisable shapes have their basis in something we hear and use everyday.