Soundings (I thought I was hearing citizens)

1st & 2nd Oct 2022: Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien

Accessible during the Vienna Humanities Festival 2022, from 11am till evening hours

Visit and immerse yourself in the sound and video installation by Mukul Patel in collaboration with Manu Luksch that traverses the IWM’s Soundings archive, reframing the voices that have been collected there to ask: how does democracy sound? 

The words you hear in this installation are from Soundings, an archive which gathers accounts,  opinions and other audio artefacts of people’s lived experiences of democracy from around the world. Selected passages are revoiced by a cast of AI avatars generated from human actors. The typical application for this technology is corporate training, but it is spreading to other people-facing scenarios, from primary education and senior care to crowd management and border control. And as it becomes possible to generate convincing avatars of  ‘fake persons’, who have never existed outside of an algorithm, the question arises – 

                      when does it matter that there is no body behind?


Concept & realisation: Manu Luksch & Mukul Patel

Commissioned by Institute für die Wissenschaft des Menschen, Vienna.
This research is funded in part by the Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence in Design (RP2-8) under the InnoHK Research Clusters, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government.

The Soundings Open Audio Archive, a moderated, public-access database, was developed by Mukul Patel with IWM as part of the Institute of Human Science’s Sounds of Democracy Project, with support from the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy at the Graduate Institute, Geneva and the Research Group on Soft Authoritarianism, University of Bremen.