A sound installation activated by the performative act of speaking, Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s Aural Archive is an extension of his ongoing project Aural Contract – constituted by a series of events, publications, exhibitions, workshops and performances that examine the contemporary politics of listening with a focus on the role of the voice in law.
Since 2010 Abu Hamdan has built up a sound archive containing audio extracts of his recordings, together with specific moments of juridical listening and speaking gathered from a wide range of sources including the trial of Saddam Hussein, the trial of Judas Priest, UK police evidence tapes and the film Decoder alongside readings from texts including Italo Calvino’s A King Listens. For this installation the artist has combined his archive with a speech recognition software, turning the archive into a voice activated composition machine, just as the law requires a person to speak and vocally testify, so too does the Aural Contract Audio Archive. Visitors to the installation must speak to the archive and voice their desire to listen to its content for it to work. The speech recognition software used in the installation also plays its own role in proceedings; amplifying simultaneously our words and the way these contemporary speech technologies distort, manipulate and consume our voices.