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What can you do with your voice?

12 February 2013

Explore the unexpected qualities of your vocal cords at Wellcome Collection’s late event. Sounds of chattering, squawking and singing will fill Wellcome Collection as the building opens late (19.00-23.00) on Friday 1 March for The Voice, a fascinating night of talks, activities and performance, celebrating the extraordinary beauty of this everyday instrument.

How do we make the sounds of speech, and what's the role of our upright gait? Rediscover the wonder of the voice with neuroscientist Professor Sophie Scott before contemplating a future in which we converse with artificial agents and robot companions with speech technologist Roger K Moore. Tales of ventriloquism, telepathy and the legend of "his master's voice" will be told by composer Sarah Angliss as she explores the early history of recorded sound.

Artist Mikhail Karikis will perform a new site-specific work for voices, which maps the body through sound. Devised with the Wellcome Trust staff choir, the piece explores how a range of vocal frequencies resonate across the body. Visitors can stretch their own glottis as they take part in an interactive installation created entirely from voices and sounds collected throughout the evening by Incidental using their innovative Feed music app.

Ever wondered how we make vowel sounds? The curious-minded will be able to build a replica vocal tract and investigate the mechanics and phenomenon of speech through live demonstrations with scientists from UCL, the University of Sheffield and the University of Sussex.

Neuroscientist Sam Clarke will explore the "working voice" with a cabaret of vocal professionals. Visitors can experience yodelling, pick up tips from a vocal coach, hear how audio description brings the world to life, and marvel at a sports commentator's patter. Meanwhile, the itinerant Jonathan P Watts will be hailing listeners as he explores the history of the London street cry through a series of live readings, and radio collective In the Dark will be dimming the lights for a night of stories told through recorded sound.

From sweet nothings to hot gossip, visitors will also be able to find a friend and make a call with some tin-can retro technology, participate in a walkie-talkie conversation devised by artists Townley and Bradby, get up close to an incognito opera singer, and meet Charlie the parrot and his handler. Visitors should listen carefully and prepare to be misdirected by poets Holly Pester and Daniel Rourke, who will be delivering acoustic surprises throughout the evening.

James Wilkes, poet and curator of The Voice, says: "The voice is at the same time utterly ordinary - almost everyone uses theirs every day - and wonderfully strange. This evening brings some of that strangeness to life as it explores the science and culture of the voice".

Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes at Wellcome Collection says: "Our voices are, arguably, our most powerful and evocative instrument, and yet many of us take them for granted. In a vocal extravaganza, The Voice will inspire a new appreciation for this remarkable attribute and offer a stimulating social gathering, in tune with our programme of all-building spectaculars."

Join us to explore the unexpected qualities of your vocal cords at The Voice at Wellcome Collection from 19.00 to 23.00 on Friday 1 March. Entry is free. Drop in any time. Talks will be ticketed; tickets will be available on the night from 19.00. A bar will be open throughout the event.

Wellcome Collection is at 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE. The nearest Tube stations are Euston and Euston Square.

Contact

Lalage Smyth
Media Officer
T
020 7611 8726
E
l.smyth@wellcome.ac.uk

Tim Morley
Senior Media Officer
T
020 7611 8612
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t.morley@wellcome.ac.uk

The Voice is curated by poet James Wilkes and researchers Alice Carey and Sally Davies. James is currently poet-in-residence at UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.

Notes for editors

About Wellcome Collection
Wellcome Collection is the free visitor destination for the incurably curious. Located at 183 Euston Road, London, Wellcome Collection explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. The building comprises three gallery spaces, a public events programme, the Wellcome Library, a café, a bookshop, conference facilities and a members' club.

Wellcome Collection is part of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust's breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.

About the contributors

  • Professor Sophie Scott is a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL.
  • Professor Roger Moore is Chair of Spoken Language Processing in the Speech and Hearing Research Group, University of Sheffield.
  • Sarah Angliss is a composer, roboticist and sound historian whose work is inspired by ideas in acoustics and the sonic arts.
  • Mikhail Karikis is an artist working internationally whose art is mostly concerned with vocality. He holds a research post at the University of Brighton.
  • Cecilia Carey is a set, prop and product designer based in London.
  • Barrett Watson is a professional parrot breeder and author.
  • Sam Clarke is a neuroscientist in the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL.
  • Peter Slater is a freelance sports commentator and reporter specialising in cycling and football.
  • Doreen Kutzke is a leading teacher and practitioner of contemporary yodelling. She runs the Jodelschule Kreuzberg, in Berlin.
  • Lynn Cox is an accredited coach, trainer and artist, and Vice Chair at the Audio Description Association.
  • Stevie Rickard is a Voice and Accent Coach at LAMDA and City Lit.
  • Townley and Bradby are a collaborative artist practice making work that occupies space already claimed by someone else.
  • Leigh Davies, David Gunn and Miles Warren work together as Incidental, a creative organisation at the intersection of art, new media and participatory practice.
  • Jonathan P Watts is a writer and critic based between London and Norfolk.
  • Mark Huckvale is a Senior Lecturer in Speech Sciences in the Department of Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences at UCL, with an interest in computers that speak and listen.
  • David Reby is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sussex and heads the Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research Group.
  • In The Dark is a collective of radio producers and enthusiasts who lift spoken word radio out of its traditional settings and curate it in new and unusual ways.
  • Holly Pester is an experimental sound poet and writer.
  • Daniel Rourke is a writer and artist.
  • Adam Crockatt is an English Tenor from Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
  • James Wilkes is a poet and writer and is currently poet-in-residence at UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.
  • Alice Carey is a London-based curator and producer, with a particular research interest in art and farming.
  • Sally Davies is an artist, researcher and curator working in the fields of learning and participatory practice.
Wellcome Trust, Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK T:+44 (0)20 7611 8888