AN ACOUSTIC JOURNEY AT THE WELLCOME COLLECTION
By Anthony Chilton
23 May 2016
The ‘THIS IS A VOICE’ exhibition, running at the Wellcome Collection from 14th April to 31st July, examines the material quality of the voice through a number of audio installations.
The exhibition brings together a wide range of works by contemporary artists and vocalists including Matthew Herbert, Imogen Stidworthy and Joan La Barbara. Their work is punctuated by paintings, manuscripts, medical illustrations and anthropological research. The exhibition explores how meaning and emotion are conveyed by the voice through rhythm, pitch, timbre and intonation, as well as examining non-verbal forms of communication, synthesised and imagined voices.
Conceived as an acoustic journey, the exhibition space needed to be physically expansive to allow visitors to move freely through the displays. This presented a significant acoustic challenge. How to combine the contrasting acoustic aspirations of generating a coherent exhibition soundscape in an open space while incorporating measures to control excess sound-spill between the different exhibits.
Our acoustic input focused on the use of materials, screening and sound isolating tunnels to reduce unintended noise leakage between the different exhibits. We advised on layouts, finishes and constructions which would create the appropriate acoustic environment for each artist’s work while maintaining the overarching visual and sonic concept. We also contributed to the audio-visual design by using directional or localised audio systems where appropriate.