MOUTH TANK

ACOUSTIC INSTALLATION, 2009

MICHAEL HANNA [UK]

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) provides symbols representing all the sounds that can be produced by the human vocal tract. Each of these symbols is associated with a specific mouth position used to create the sound and these are combined to create words. IPA was chosen for this work as it is an international ‘language’ that does not in itself enable international communication, only analysis. Mouth Tank is developed from research into practical phonetics, looking at what is physically required from the body to create individual speech sounds.

Each sculptural element alludes to key physical components involved in speech – pressure, lubrication, vibration and flesh, and materials are chosen based on these components. This has developed into an interactive acoustic installation which explores the vibratory element of speech through physical experience.

The installation is built from a 6000 litre septic tank lined with acoustic foam. Four speakers are embedded in the walls of the tank with one subwoofer incorporated in the chair inside. Viewers enter the tank individually and experience a vocal performance exploring the vibratory aspect of speech played across the speakers. The vocals are mapped across the speakers based on where each individual speech sound is produced in the mouth. There is a sense of entering something which appears alien but experiencing something entirely personal and physical, with the wetness of mouth being replaced by the dark dryness of the foam lined chamber.

MOUTH TANK Photo: “Mouth Tank” Michael Hanna
MOUTH TANK Photo: “Mouth Tank” Michael Hanna
MOUTH TANK Photo: “Mouth Tank” Michael Hanna

About the artist: 

Over the past two years, Michael Hanna has graduated from the Master of Fine Art course at the University of Ulster and completed a residency at Belfast’s Digital Art Studios. Michael has been involved in numerous group exhibitions both locally and internationally including gallery shows in Los Angeles and Taiwan. His first solo exhibition, Calculated Error, opened at the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast in early 2012. His second solo exhibition is due to take place at the Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown in 2013. His recent work has taken a range of forms including acoustic and video installation, photography and sculpture.

MICHAEL HANNA [UK]