David Rokeby

29 January 2001

Networked installation: computers, monitors, microphones.

n-Cha(n)t is a community of seven networked computers that talk to each other and process speech.

Each computer entity is equipped with a highly focused microphone and voice recognition software and displays a listening ear on its screen. The computer entities pick up on each other’s words in an associative process, and the software that drives them steers them towards finding resonance in synonyms and similar sounding words.

If it remains undisturbed, the community reaches a consensus and chants in unison. If a visitor speaks into one of the microphones, it distracts the respective computer, which communicates the input to its neighbours until the whole community loses coherence and erupts in chaotic chatter.

The incoming words are displayed in the ears visible on monitors, which show the state of receptivity of each computer. A listening ear indicates that the computer is ready to listen; when the computer hears a sound, it cups its ear to concentrate; when ’thinking’, a finger is pressed into the ear.

If the community is left uninterrupted, it slowly synchronises again and falls into the chant.