I See a Voice, 2023
Light, sound and mixed media installation

I See a Voice, The National Festival of Making 2023, The Exchange, Blackburn
Copy of JAL_1320-Small
Photo: Jules Lister

I See a Voice is a multimedia installation commissioned by Art in Manufacturing. It premiered at the National Festival of Making in the extraordinary Cotton Exchange in Blackburn. During a residency with fabric manufacturers Panaz I investigated moiré patterns and optical effects induced through the movements of sheer fabrics alongside 'Mee-mawing', a form of exaggerated speech developed by weavers in the Lancashire mills to enable communication in the deafening sheds.

These ideas are weaved with my ongoing research into Shakespeare's Mechanicals from A Midsummer Night's Dream. In the play Bottom the weaver famously cries ‘I see a voice’, in an extraordinary sensory distortion—through a makeshift wall—as he acts out Pyramus and Thisbe with his fellow amateur actors.

The installation comprises large-format printed and specially adapted panels of wide-width fabric, activated through a choreographed display of light, sound and haze. The soundtrack is constructed through recordings of mills, vocal improvisations, stock audio and sonic moirés composed in collaboration with Scott McLaughlin.

Photo: Robin Zahler

Commissioned by Art in Manufacturing 2023.
Music by Sam Belinfante and Scott McLaughlin, featuring percussion by Eli Keszler and Simon Limbrick.
Exhibition design by Brian Studak and PLAID studio. Typography by Joseph Kohlmaier.

Special thanks to Simon Attard, Jordan Lawton and the whole team at Panaz; Richard Tillotson and team at Wesiters mill; Paul Morris and team at Essential Soft Furnishings; Elena Jackson and Helen Kemp at Art in Manufacturing; Adam Long and team at TG Events & Production Supply; Cotton Exchange, Blackburn.

Incorporating Contrary Motion (2016/2023), photography assisted by Kathryn Faulkner. Further thanks to Sarah Kate Wilson and Jenny Wingfield.

Residency at Panaz, photo: Daniel Allison
Audio recording at Weister's mill, May 2023