Coordinator – John Wedgwood Clarke

Participants – Paul Barker, Paul Elsam, Darren Reed

Outline - Bespoke is a sequence of six poems composed for the artificial voice. Each poem explores the relationship between the speech synthesis and those who encounter it either as a medium for their own verbal expression or source of information. The tension between live performance and the absence of life in the synthesized voice lies at the heart of Bespoke's navigation of the shifting relationship between identity and voice.

 Our voices secure and discover us for each other. We live in our voices. As with any place you know well, sometimes it’s good to leave it briefly, if only to see more clearly what an extraordinary place it is.  That stepping in and out of a familiar voice was what I was after in these poems. To do this I let them shift between opacity and transparency, between being strange and familiar. Some of the poems explore encounters with artificial voices, others try to give voice to the otherness of the machine, and all of them, I hope, give some sense of just how much depends on this fragile thing in our throats. We’ve all lost our voices at one time or another and know just how alienating that can feel, but to lose your voice permanently must have an inestimable impact of your sense of identity and agency. Hearing myself displaced by an artificial voice gave me an inkling of what that must be like. It also gave me immense respect for those who improvise their spoken identity at the creative interface between text and speech synthesis.’  John Wedgwood Clarke