Genderless Sounds

Extending on my first proposed idea to audio record/play my contextual statement – I started to think about the recording as a genderless playback. If there’s importance around presenting my physical sculptures as undefined ontological structures and negative spaces without the associated gender-biased language, then I should be treating text recorded sounds with the same approach. I started by experimenting with text-to-speech non-binary/robotic options that already had a bit of reverb/echo/static built-in. I attempted to humanize the AI as much as possible by changing the rate, intonation and pitch. The playback is still a bit masculine, which is not ideal, but finding the balance between nasal and neutral meant lowering the pitch (The ideal frequency for a genderless voice is between 145-175 Hz. 1). I also had to edit my written statement dramatically for a computer voiceover reading with appropriate pauses. Changing the style of writing to allow for easier active-listening absorption versus reading a statement with longer sentences, eg:

MacOS option – voice: Boing, rate: 41, pitch: 40, intonation: 85

Audio Contextual Statement (written and punctuated for non-binary AI voiceover):
Ontology
of holes (UPDATED working title – suggested by Ziggy. Previous title: Immaterial Bodies and their Hosts). Their symbiotic negative and positive relationship with space. Distorting the pictorial language of compositional holes and figurative forms with Non-objective sculptures. A process-driven method of making, pushing the clay with blunt objects, creating unified tension in materials through increased proximity. Un-identifiable cells, fossils, organic forms, begin to emerge. I am the puppeteer of these objects. Architecting the scale, and the space they occupy. These negative spaces require a host to exist. Examine the materiality of that host, and the immaterial quality of the hole itself. The space around the host is the void, and separate to the hole, because the void continues to exist without objects. It surrounds these immaterial bodies and their hosts, that are suspended in time. How can language define a hole? Why is outdated gender-biased language still used in mechanical terminology, and in visual arts. These holes are undefined ontological structures. Remove preconceived language connections to these negative spaces. Acknowledge the duality of them existing within the same space, at the same time. The Immaterial Bodies cannot live without their hosts. They are yin and yang, complimentary opposite forces, independent in language, but interconnected when viewed as a whole… (continued).

I enjoyed the challenge of trying to humanize the computer recording with inflection and tweaked sentence grammar. Forcing it to pause with additional punctuation that’s not always required when reading text (humans needing to pause and breath between sentences for oral presentations). Unfortunately I couldn’t find a readily available AI up for the task – the first genderless voice “Q” has yet to be released to the public, which says a lot about how mainstream society still re-enforces a gender bias. Steps have been taken to include male voices to the initial release of “submissive” female AI such as Siri and Alexa 2. It seems to be a slow process for the big brands to release just ONE genderless option to the public. The best I can do would be to record and alter the pitch of my own voice (test in progress). I haven’t decided if an AI recording or manipulated self-spoken voiceover would be better suited for this project – something to discuss during my next critique.

https://www.genderlessvoice.com/
  1. TEDxTalks, “How to Create a Genderless Voice | Nis NØRGAARD | TEDXUNIVERSITYOFNICOSIA,” YouTube (YouTube, December 20, 2019), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH6KB7MrOPw.
  2. “First UNESCO Recommendations to Combat Gender Bias in Applications Using Artificial Intelligence,” UNESCO, January 5, 2021, https://en.unesco.org/news/first-unesco-recommendations-combat-gender-bias-applications-using-artificial-intelligence.
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