of the soone

of the soone
of the soone
 / deep learning sound work
 / 2017
 

In of the soone, listeners are exposed to the architectures of an artificial intelligence algorithm through the sounds of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) - a genre developed by internet aficionados interested in using specific everyday sounds (whispering, soft voice, crinkling and textured sounds) alongside verbal suggestion to trigger pleasant tingling reactions in the listener's body.

Description

A disembodied voice invites the listener to partake in a speculative audio treatment that promises to awaken underdeveloped neural passageways through exposure to the non-human processes of neural network language acquisition. The artists combined ASMR principles of sound with artificial intelligence to create a speculative neural conditioning treatment. After a roleplay that psychologically prepares the listener, one hears a soft vocal performance of a textual score written by a machine learning algorithm, showcasing each stage of the learning process as the algorithm slowly learns to speak. The combination of algorithmic text and ASMR connects the non-conscious, automatic processes of AI to the autonomous reactions of the listener's body to sound, using sonic intimacy to hack into the subconscious of the listener and recondition her neural pathways.

During the aural treatment, the subject listens to the ASMR voice reading out the results of a process enacted by a deep recurrent neural network agent known as “long short term memory” (LSTM). The algorithm “reads” Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights character by character, familiarizing itself with the syntactical universe of the text. As it reads and re-reads the book, it attempts to mimic Brontë’s style within the constraints of its own artificial “body”, hence finding its own alien voice.

The reading of this AI-generated text by a human speaker allows the listener to experience the neural network agent’s linguistic journey, and to experience the augmentation of this machine-speech through vocalization techniques adapted from Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR). ASMR involves the use of acoustic “triggers” such as gentle whispering, fingers scratching or tapping, in an attempt to induce tingling sensations and pleasurable auditory-tactile synaesthesia in the user. Through these autonomous physiological experiences, the work aims to reveal the listener’s own cyborgian qualities as part of the hybrid system in place.

Credits

Neural network programming and training: Sofian Audry
Vocal performer, audio recording and editing, electronics: Erin Gee