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Adam Donovan, Curious Tautophone, 2013, Installation view

The Curious Tautophone “Projected auditory inkblot test“

The name, Curious Tautophone, derives from projective auditory tests developed by Saul Rosenzweig and David Shakow and based on Skinners verbal Summator tests.  The original Tautophone can be thought of as an Auditory Rorschach Inkblot and dates back to the 1940’s. The Greek prefix tauto, meaning “repeating the same,”

In this work the viewer is presented with a scientific looking object that serves as a projection device to repeat a verbal statement or incoherent sounds.  For example an Incoherent voice can be heard repeating vowel sounds such as “uh-Oh-Ah-uh” or “uh-uh-I-E-uh”. (Skinner, 1979, p. 175). The robot becomes a type of device for the purposes of “snaring out complexes” a role usually served by a physician in the analysis of latent memory.

The verbal summator is no longer used for such experiments and the validity of such tests should be thought of as novel and exploratory. However, I want to give the robot a chance to explore personalities and complexes and perhaps it will trigger some interesting latent responses.

The robot itself is very fun to play with and reacts to a number of situations.  While viewers are not being directly tracked the robot moves through pre-defined locations beaming various sounds into space in the aim of triggering latent speech.  It is to be thought of as an autonomous test at this stage.  While approaching closer to the object the robot starts to track your head at a distance of around 5 meters (about the limit of the Kinect camera).  While in this far distance mode the robot projects sounds directly at the users head.  On approach the robot spins 180 degrees and tracking moves from their head to their right hand allowing a faster feedback of the tracking.

The real-time landscape serves as a canvas for sound and is to be thought of as part of the test aiding user immersion in whatever latent memory they may be experiencing.

Like all my work it is fundamentally about perception through the concept of the lens, both with the lens of the sound beam and the camera tracking. Often this is a reflection of my own desire or longing and memories of machines and how intertwined we are to them.

The work is very stable and can be operated 8 hours a day without the need for resetting or restarting any element. 

Please watch with stereo audio and full screen! The sound recording is slightly binaural so you will get a better impression of the focused sound if you listen with headphones.

Adam Donovan, Curious Tautophone, 2013, installation view (vimeo)

History of the this artwork:
This artwork uses is a highly directional beam of sound almost like a laser. The work does not use a normal speaker but rather it is made of many small ultrasound speakers that cause some funky physics stuff and creates sound out of thin air. The work can only be heard when it is either pointing directly at you or reflecting of a wall.

More details...
This artwork incorporates a parametric array mounted on a gimbal for human tracking.
The work also serves as a performance device to track aspects of my own body to compose music.
The Robot Sound Lens Sculpture is one of 3 new works I am developing for exhibitions and performances in 2012. The work uses the Kinect camera to track members of an audience through space projecting various memory soundscapes also based on movement.
This artwork expands on research into parametric arrays done 2001 while artist in residence at the Defence Science and Technology Organization in South Australia.
My sound lens artworks series began in 1996 evolving from previous sculptures using optics. The lens in its most simple form is a representation of a point of view while at the same time it is a real device used in physics to peer into the extents of the known Universe and also within the human body.
We all form types of lenses by the way in which we develop our perception of the world.

Interview with Adam Donovan, Scientific-Serendipity

Tools Adam Donovan © 2014