Hannah E. Wolfe, Sölen Kiratli, Alex John Bundy: Cacophonic Choir

  • ©2019, Hannah E. Wolfe, Sölen Kiratli, and Alex John Bundy
  • Gökhan Tugay Şeke
  • ©2019, Hannah E. Wolfe, Sölen Kiratli, and Alex John Bundy
  • Gökhan Tugay Şeke



    Cacophonic Choir


Creation Year:



    Sound (digital audio), PLA plastics (additive fabrication), silicone (manual casting), embedded hardware (ultrasonic proximity sensors, loudspeakers, LED rings, single-board computers) Methods: Machine learning, artificial neural nets, text generation, text to speech synthesis, interaction design, digital audio


    4'-3" x 1' x 1' (each pedestal)


Artist Statement:

    “Cacophonic Choir,” an interactive art installation, addresses the ways that sexual assault survivors’ experiences are distorted by digital and mass media and its effect. The installation is composed of distributed agents in space that individually respond by becoming visually bright, semantically coherent, and sonically clear, revealing original testimonies of survivors.

    Extended Summary:

    Cacophonic Choir is an interactive sound installation aimed at bringing attention to the first-hand stories of sexual assault survivors, and the way such stories may be distorted by the media and in online discourse. The work is composed of nine vocalizing physical agents distributed in space. Each agent tells a story. Altogether, from a distance, the listener hears an unintelligible choir—the stories are fragmented and the voices distorted. As the user approaches an agent, the story becomes sonically and semantically more coherent. When in the agent’s personal space, the viewer can hear the first-hand account* of a sexual assault survivor. The work employs several digital media techniques, including machine learning, physical computing, digital audio signal processing, and digital design and fabrication. Agents are fitted with ultrasonic sensors and respond to a viewer approaching it in three ways simultaneously. First, the narrative becomes more coherent, reflecting how stories become distorted by the media. This is achieved by adjusting the accuracy of a generative machine learning algorithm that we designed and trained on the anonymous accounts of more than five hundred sexual assault survivors. Second, to express how survivors are silenced, the voices are treated by a granular synthesis algorithm which generates a stuttering and halting effect that decreases as the viewer approaches the agent. Third, the unique form of each agent becomes revealed as the result of it illuminating itself from within, enabling the viewer to see through the soft silicon shell to the digitally fabricated organic form within. Via these interactions, the work embodies the stories of sexual assault survivors, and how these stories are obscured and distorted in online public discourse.

    * These stories were shared on “The When You’re Ready Project”, a web-based platform where survivors of sexual violence can have their voices heard. https://whenyoureready.org/

Other Information:

    Cacophonic Choir reflects ways in which individual accounts of sexual assault survivors may be lost in the forums of mass media and online discourse. It also reflects the way that sexual assault survivors may fear that their stories may be drowned out or distorted when made public. The work encourages people to step away from these arenas to listen to individual survivors’ accounts. While sexual violence is a systematic problem, the experiences of those who have survived it are all different and deserve to be heard.