The lion and the wine-dark sea - Neil Bennun | Re:cognition

Season 8, Episode 4,  Oct 09, 2019, 11:21 AM

Conversations about language. Artist Nick Ryan presents an ontological adventure into voice recognition, language, semiotics, sensory experience, immersive sound and imagination. 

The series documents and delves into the research being undertaken by Nick Ryan and his collaborators for RE:COGNITION, an interdisciplinary project exploring the connection between the sound of spoken language) and meanings manifest in the physical world as sound or concepts otherwise capable of being represented sonically.

Neil Bennun is a BAFTA winning author, actor and experimental theatre maker who has written extensively for video games and interactive and digital narrative projects. In his book, “The Broken String: The Last Words of an Extinct People” (published by Penguin in 2005) Neil uncovered the stories of the first people of South Africa from the brink of extinction - a world of sorcerers, hunters and artists with vivid stories to tell. Nick and Neil discuss evolution, the origins of language and symbol, hacking and why Homer referred to the Sea as ‘wine-dark’, as Nick delves deeper in his mission to build a machine in which a human communication can be translated into a universal representation in non-verbal sound.


In connection to this Nick Ryan presents The Gulf of Understanding (Re:cognition) as part of BONDS until 05 Jan 2020 at Gallery 31, Somerset House Studios’ new permanent exhibition space. The Gulf of Understanding (Re:cognition) taps into the magic of making sense, exploring the sound of spoken language and its relationship to sensation and matter. Inviting visitors to speak a word into a microphone, the installation uses machine learning and natural language processing to automatically represent these words as sounds. Simultaneously, a visualisation displays the words and their semantic relationships to related vocabulary. 

Nick Ryan is a multi-disciplinary artist and composer exploring auditory representations of information, language, physical materiality and space through the creation of sound and multi-sensory installations, bespoke instruments and generative audio experiences. 

Re:cognition is commissioned by CASE Foundation and currently is in the R&D phase. 

Podcast produced by Nick Ryan and Jo Barratt for Somerset House Studios.