[ISEA2016] Artist Statement: Ulla Rauter — Sound Calligraphy

Artist Statement 

The project consists of calligraphic handwriting containing the spectral sound information of spoken words, which can be made audible by techniques of sonification. During a live performance, I draw calligraphic handwriting which is trans-formed into sound by means of a special scan-ner (camera and computer-software). I work at the interface between sound and fine art, exploring processes of transformation. In earlier works I focused on a special kind of sound visualization, on spectrographs (also called voiceprints): A spectrograph is a 2-dimensional time-frequency analysis of a sound. I am not only fascinated by the aesthetics of these images but also by their function as a medium — like a code, they contain a certain message as well as the in-formation about the original sound. With certain technology it is possible to convert them into sound again and recover their acoustic contents. In my work Sound Drawings (2010), I began to create hand-drawn spec-trograms: I reversed the process of sound-visualization and painted spectrographs of a human voice on the wall, which afterwards were made audible through an inverse Fast Fourier transformation.
My interest lies in the fact that the combination of manual drawing and digital technology is able to create an artificial voice and the perception of speech. Apart from the poetic performative aspect of drawing voices, human speech and its perception are part of the focus of my interest. My drawings are in fact only layers of frequencies that imitate a human voice. It is not much more than noise and a cluster of sine waves, and it is artificial. But at a certain point in time, we can start to recognize words, maybe a sentence; we start to hear human speech. Due to the constructive behavior of the brain, we search for meaningful messages within the noise that we hear. ullarauter.com/index_englisch.html

  • Ulla Rauter, born 1980 in Vienna Neustadt, Austria, studied Transmedia Art at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. As a media artist and musician she works at the interface between sound and fine art – her works include performative sculptures, music performances and self-built instruments. In 2008, Rauter received a promotion prize in the first Ö1 talent scholarship round, in 2009 a working scholarship from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research, and in 2011 a start-up scholarship from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture. In 2010 she and Christine Schörkhuber founded the annual sound-art show Sound Manifestos. Since 2013 she’s got a lectureship at the University of Applied Arts, Department of Digital Art. ullarauter.com