Somerset House Studios

Jennifer Walshe & Memo Akten: Ultrachunk + TBC

Part of Assembly

Sat 17 Nov 2018
16.00 - 17.30
Lancaster Rooms
New Wing

Studios artists Jennifer Walshe and Memo Akten present collaborative project ULTRACHUNK: an AI and human vocal improvisational performance.

The voice is considered the most personal of musical instruments, betraying emotion, gender, age and class, rendering biology in sound. What does it mean to use your voice to improvise with a neural network? How does it feel to hear an artificial intelligence network sing back in “your" voice, through the filter of code?

For ULTRACHUNK Akten has created GRANNMA (Granular Neural Music and Audio), a neural network that Walshe has trained with the data of multiple hours of solo vocal improvisations. In performance for ASSEMBLY, ULTRACHUNK sees GRANNMA responding to Walshe’s voice live, as Walshe wrangles with what it means to be a vocalist singing with an artificially intelligent duo partner.

The work will also take form as an interactive installation throughout the duration of ASSEMBLY’s five days; documenting ULTRACHUNK’s process and development, the installation invites the public to engage with and experience its system, open from 10am every day of the series. 

Composer, performer and vocalist, Jennifer Walshe’s body of work is vast and impressive; a large number of operas and theatrical works include XXX_LIVE_NUDE_GIRLS!!!, an opera for Barbie dolls, and Die Taktik, a commission for the Junge Oper Stuttgart. In 2015, she launched a project crowdsourcing internet based sound with the musician Holly Herndon, and her visual work has been exhibited in the Chelsea Art Museum, New York, Project Arts Centre, Dublin and the ICA. Jennifer won the British Composer Award for Innovation in 2016.

Memo Akten is an artist from Istanbul studying and working with complex systems, behaviour, algorithms and software. He received the Prix Ars Electronic Golden Nica in 2013 for his collaboration with Quayola, ‘Forms’. Past exhibitions and performances include the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Royal Opera House, London; Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow; La Gaîté lyrique, Paris; Holon Design Museum, Israel and the EYE Film Institute, Amsterdam.