Style your voice like your hair: unique installation by University of Winchester artist at the Southampton Fringe

6 Dec 2016
Man singing into microphone in front of a mirror

A unique art installation inviting you to shape and style your voice in the same way as your hair by artist and University of Winchester professor Yvon Bonenfant is currently on show as part of the Southampton Fringe.

Curious Replicas is an immersive audio experience which explores the uncharted territory of the human voice by creating an intimate voice salon for audiences to experience.
Visitors sit at a hair salon-style booth in front of a microphone into which they can talk and sing - by pressing and turning a variety of buttons and knobs they can manipulate their voices, inventing something entirely different and unusual. By doing so, visitors can reimagine their vocal selves and literally touch their vocal creativity.
The project also involves artist Harold Offeh, whose work includes an exploration of the significance and meaning of hair, Hairography. Harold attends the installation as a voice-dresser, offering visitors wigs to match their new voices, and sending photos and sound-samples of their re-styled selves to them.
"Curious Replicas plays with the idea that your voice is your hair. The sound console allows you to add bounce, curl, twist, frizz and shine to your voice, to alter its body, and to play with its drama, while you listen in real time - as privately, or as publicly, as you like," says Yvon Bonenfant, Professor of Artistic Process, Voice and Extended Practices at the University of Winchester.
"Just like our hair, our voices straddle the genetic and the cultural. We are born with our fundamental vocal anatomy, but we shape our sounds with our tongues and faces. We then add languages, accents, genders attitudes and social roles: we style our voices all the time. This installation opens up the possibility of sculpting your voice, almost as if it were a touchable material - a sort of 'sound-hair' if you like."
The show is a creative collaboration between Southampton-based creative studio Tract and Touch. Founded in 2016, the studio builds on Yvon Bonenfant's work ammaking sophisticated vocal art accessible to the wider public as well as to children who have profound and multiple learning disabilities. Curious Replicas is a part of current research Hands on Your Vibrating Voice.
Engineer Dr Peter Glynne-Jones, an Associate Professor in the University of Southampton's Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, has been advising and leading on the technical aspects of the installation.
Yvon's research at the University of Winchester explores how emitting vocal sounds may transform the world around us - physically, biologically and emotionally - and exactly how this is achieved. He currently holds a Large Arts Award from the Wellcome Trust and funding from Arts Council England to collaborate with speech scientists on the development of a series of participatory, extra-normal voice artworks for children and families, including the Voice Bubbles iPad app.
Curious Replicas is showing until 9 December in the Civic Centre Lobby, downstairs from the City Art Gallery, Southampton. Opening times are: Monday 10-7pm, Tuesday 10am-7pm, Wednesday 10am-6pm, Thursday 10am-7pm, Friday 10am-5pm. Harold Offeh will activate the artwork on 8 December, 6-8 pm.
To find out more about Yvon Bonenfant's work, visit

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