Speaking in Tongues
Audio Spotlight® Directional Speaker Technology at Venice Biennale
Contemporary British artist Paul Benney's ambitious large-scale work, Speaking in Tongues, depicts the artist's friends and contemporaries as Apostles in the Pentecostal state with luminous flames above their heads, evoking spiritual awareness.
Benney creatively uses setting and sound to enhance the experience and engagement with the piece. Inside Chiesa di San Gallo at the 57th installment of Italy’s prestigious La Biennale di Venezia, the relationship to the stories that inspired Speaking in Tongues is made audibly tangible with the help of Holosonics’ Audio Spotlight directional speakers. From afar, viewers begin to hear a multitude of monologues as a slightly disorienting babble, but as they approach the work, the intimate and personal monologues become individually discernible at various specific locations.
The sound installation, conceived and recorded by Benney, uses four AS-24i Audio Spotlight directional speakers to allow individual figures in the painting to relate a memorable, spiritually enlightening moment of their lives. Despite being located mere steps away from one another, each sound beam is entirely separated, providing a uniquely captivating sonic dimension to Benney’s work, enveloping the viewer with new listening experiences at every turn.
This project is a very personal work for the artist, as it attempts to bring different people from various ethnicities and religious backgrounds together, to individually express a state of grace, beyond partisan concerns. The diverse ages, races, and faiths of the persons in Speaking in Tongues underline the potential for inclusivity and cross-cultural engagement, and the Audio Spotlight technology was a powerful tool in conveying his message, which has resonated with guests of the Biennale.
The work is currently on display in Chiesa di San Gallo at La Biennale di Venezia, and can be viewed there until November 26, 2017.
The Benney exhibit marks the second time that the Audio Spotlight system has been used at the prestigious La Biennale di Venezia. In 2013, an exhibit of artist and filmmaker Romuald Karmakar included multiple sound beams that were provided by Audio Spotlight speakers as seen below.
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- Sound for specific displays - and quiet elsewhere.
- Several soundtracks in one room - without disturbing others or interfering with one another.
- Untethered sound delivery, without the need for messy headphone wires or unsanitary handsets.