Next Wave – 15th May – 7th June

From 15th May to 7th June I’ll be exhibting new(ish) work at the RBSA as part of the Next Wave exhibition.


Next Wave is an entirely new venture for the RBSA. It is the first project based on the professional practice of early career artists to take place at the Gallery and has been designed to help support and promote both new graduates and those up to ten years post-qualification.

Seven emerging artists have been selected with the aim of creating a new style of exhibition within the gallery spaces. In an exciting initiative, exhibitors have been encouraged to develop their professional experience by contributing to the range of activities and events involved in the creation of a successful exhibition.

It is hoped that Next Wave will foster critical engagement, lively debate and networking opportunities for the art community and public alike, and at the same time strive to extend and diversify the audience for art in the region.

spɛl ænd spik, originally comissioned by Electronic Voice Phenomena, will be having its first IRL screening at the exhibition, alongside the work of nine other artists and RBSA curators.

In addition to being open during general opening times there’ll be an open evening on Thursday 15 May, 17.00 – 21.00 (part of the Art Bus thingy), and a Celebratory Open Day on Saturday 17 May, 14.00 – 16.00. Be there and be square!

spɛl ænd spik

Phonemes are the smallest units of sound in a language. Unlike letters which describe how words are written, phonemes describe how words should be pronounced. There around 44 phonemes in the English language, though this varies with different accents and dialects.

In spɛl ænd spik I hand over the composition of these phonemes to a computer program and text-to-speech software. Unlike the process of haphazardly arranging letters, when phonemes are strung together there is less chance of the result being unpronouncable.

When compososed haphazardly by a computer do these new sounds make sense to human listeners? Can they be mistaken for English? Do changes in the voice, speed, pitch and gender of the computerised voice affect how we interpret these nonsensical sounds? Does the use of a human avatar help our understanding of these sounds as English words?

Download code

spɛl ænd spik was developed for Electronic Voice Phenomena.

spɛl ænd spik uses code by Silas S. Brown.

  • – Simple lip-sync animations in Linux
  • lexconvert – a converter between the lexicon formats of different speech synthesizers

spɛl ænd spik was developed with programming assitance from Michael Murtaugh and photographic assitance from Pete Ashton.


spɛl ænd spik was developed on Ubuntu 13.10 with the following sofware:


Take three pictures. One with your mouth closed (1.jpg), one with your mouth partly open (2.jpg) and one with your mouth fully open (3.jpg) (instructions adapted from here). Put these in the same location as this script.

In the terminal run ./