Voice Lessons is an electronic, audio device that interrogates the popular myth that every musical instrument imitates the human voice. Touching the screen allows the participant to manipulate the visuals and vocalizations of the “voice teacher” as he recites vocal warm up exercises.
The piece resides in the space between a musical instrument and voice lesson. Move the touch point left, right, up, and down to explore the visual and auditory possibilities. Rapid high pitched loops occur while touching near the top of the screen while lower pitched longer loops are heard near the bottom.
The actor, also named John Keston, is my retired father who became a voice teacher after a long career on stage in plays, operas, and musicals with the Royal Shakespeare Company in our native country England and abroad.
32” interactive touch screen installation
By John Keston 2011
This video documentation was shot while Voice Lessons was installed at the MCAD Whittier Studios for a session of the graduate critique seminar in November, 2011.
The piece, developed in Max/MSP, granulates both sound and video in parallel as the viewer touches the screen. Synchronization between the the audio and visual content is maintained. The piece will be installed again for an open studio night on December 9, 2011 (6 to 10pm) at the MCAD Whittier Studios, 2835 Harriet Avenue South, Minneapolis.
The image above shows the main patch window for Voice Lessons. The X and Y coordinates of the touch-screen are translated into position, frequency, and grain width for the audio and video. When the screen is not being touched video without sound of the subject looking around the environment is played. I call this the idle mode and it serves to attract the viewer into interacting with the piece.
When the idle mode has been active for 1.5 seconds a new video and corresponding sound is randomly selected from a pool of five possibilities. Each video is a distinct performance of vocal exercises that explore a variety of vowels and consonants.