Messa di Voce

Installation for Voice and Interactive Media
Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman, 2003

Messa di Voce is an audiovisual system in which the speech, shouts and songs produced by two vocalists are radically augmented in real-time by custom interactive visualization software. The installation touches on themes of abstract communication, synaesthetic relationships, cartoon language, and writing and scoring systems, within the context of a sophisticated and playful virtual world.

Levin and Lieberman's software transforms every vocal nuance into correspondingly complex, subtly differentiated and highly expressive graphics. These visuals not only depict the users' voices, but also serve as controls for their acoustic playback. While the voice-generated graphics thus become an instrument which the users can perform, body-based manipulations of these graphics additionally replay the sounds of the users' voices thus creating a cycle of interaction that fully integrates the visitors into an ambience consisting of sound, virtual objects and real-time processing.

Messa di Voce lies at an intersection of human and technological performance extremes, melding the unpredictable spontaneity of the unconstrained human voice with the latest in computer vision and speech analysis technologies. Utterly wordless, yet profoundly verbal, Messa di Voce is designed to provoke questions about the meaning and effects of speech sounds, speech acts, and the immersive environment of language.

Contact & Inquiries
Video Documentation
Technical Diagram
Required Rental Equipment

Provided Materials
Installation Timetable

Video Documentation

Messa Installation (Insect Module) [2 Mb AVI]
A four-year old child plays with his augmented shadow, in a version of the software installed at the Eyebeam gallery.
Messa Installation (Balls Module) [4 Mb AVI]
Speech is transformed into raining balls, in a version of the software installed at the Eyebeam gallery.
Contact & Inquiries

The Messa di Voce installation is available for exhibition in 2004 and 2005. Inquiries should be made at least 4 months prior to the anticipated exhibition date. Please direct inquiries to:

Golan Levin: golan [at] flong [dot] com
Zach Lieberman: zlieb [at] parsons [dot] edu

Technical Diagram

A technical diagram and wiring layout for the Messa di Voce installation will be available soon.

Required Equipment

We request venues interested in exhibiting the Messa di Voce installation to provide certain equipment, including computers, video projectors, sound support, etc. Generally we have found that the purchase/rental of this equipment totals less than €5000. Exhibitors should provide:

Equipment for Messa di Voce Concert Video:

  • 1 DVD player
  • 1 Plasma screen or LCD monitor
  • small stereo sound system
  • video+audio cables for above

Computer Equipment for Interactive Installation:

  • 1 Windows PC, with:
    • Windows XP Professional operating system
    • At least 2.6 GHz CPU, with 512MB RAM
    • Preferably manufactured by DELL
    • At least 3 PCI slots

  • 1 nVidia geForce Graphics card:
    • geForce 5600 chipset or better
    • with dual-head support (two video outputs)

  • 1 LCD computer monitor, XVGA (1024x768)
  • 1 M-Audio Delta44 audio card
  • 1 Pinnacle PCTV Pro video capture board
  • 1 Griffin Powermate USB knob (Aluminum-colored)

Video and Lighting Equipment:

Audio Equipment:

Furniture and Construction:

  • blank white wall, at least 4mx3m
  • 1 pedestal for containing PC

Other Equipment Required During Setup:

  • 1 additional LCD or CRT screen
  • 1 VGA Distribution Amplifier (two-way video splitter)
  • 1 8-port Network hub
  • live Internet connection
  • 2 standard desks
  • 2 chairs

Provided Materials

Under some cirumstances, depending on availability, the Messa di Voce team may be able to provide some of the above equipment. If not, it may be necessary for the exhibiting venue to provide the listed materials, or to provide funds for obtaining them. Generally, an amount of approximately $1000 is sufficient to obtain the smaller equipment, such as the camera, audio and video capture cards, etc.

Installation Timetable

The Messa di Voce installation has a complex setup phase, requiring location-specific adjustments to our computer-vision tracking system. For this reason, we require the following timetable for installing the exhibit:

  • All equipment listed above, including computers and video projection systems, should be on-site three full days prior to the opening of the exhibition.

  • Artists Golan Levin and Zach Lieberman require at least three full days to prepare the installation, and should therefore arrive on-site at least 4 days prior to the opening.