Wolfgang von Kempelen.
Mechanical Speaking Machine.
Before the continuum of sound was able to be captured through the phonograph, or even earlier experiments where grains of sand were ordered on a surface by certain frequencies, the desire to order, control and reproduce sound was largely focussed on the human voice. This may be reflective of the fact that at least in the West, it’s the voice and the Word, which has historically served to order our world. Of this desire, Wolfgang von Kempelen’s speaking machine is an important example.
What’s also interesting about Kempelen, is that his most famous endeavour, the Mechanical Turk was soon exposed as a fraud, whereby the automated chess player in truth had an expert operator hidden under the stage. This would suggest that Kempelen was more interested in the depiction (or at the very least, the concept) of the artificial, constructed human. By today’s standards he might be thought of as a conceptual artist rather than a scientist.
Categories: Processed Voice / Post-Human