For this project, I wanted to create an intimate portrait of Iciaiot through the “voice” of her moves, her breath, her quirks and so on. For that purpose, I put four contact mikes on different parts of her body during a 2-hour dinner and recorded the output of the mikes along with a close-up video that I then edited.

This project started with a first chat at Starbucks with Iciaiot. We noticed that we were both fidgeting, probably out of nervousness and excitement triggered when you meet someone new. While she was playing with her ring, I did the same with my pen. The idea then emerged in my mind to create a portrait based on this fidgeting movement.

My initial thought was to have someone play with a fake ring, which would modify a virtual environment representative of Iciaiot’s world. However, this situation was too contrived and based on Golan’s recommendation, I moved on to something more straightforward to capture Iciaiot’s quirks: contact mikes.

First idea: Glove with ring / photocell sensor
Second idea: Contact Mikes

Figuring out the best way to use the mikes required some testing. I tried different locations on Iciaiot’s body and different situations while recording. Having her eating or drinking turned out to be most interesting as it required movements of the jaw or the esophagus which made distinct waves for the mikes. In the end, four locations were compelling: the skull behind the ear for voice and chewing, the throat for swallowing, the chest for breath and moves, the hand for picking up objects.

Testing the mikes
Testing the Mikes

As Iciaiot knew me better after a while, she would no longer fidget with her rings next to me. I then decided to record her in a casual place outside during dinner. We went to the Porch in Pittsburgh and I recorded the moment with a camera and 4 contact mikes positioned at the locations mentioned above.

Contact mikes can generate a lot of noise, and the setup took a bit of time to find the right sound level. I also needed to tape the mikes a few times during dinner as the foam became less sticky. I was also surprised that some mikes (especially the one on the hand and the one on the ear) actually recorded voices very well. I would have preferred to get rid of it as the camera already had voice as an input but I had to deal with it in my audio files.

I think the output is somehow original, as the different positions of the mikes allow to get different perspectives over Iciaoit at the same time. Another situation than a restaurant might be more suitable though. I think recording the reaction of people when they discover the “sound” of their body would be very interesting. Here, Iciaiot was aware of my plan and had tested it with me before, so the “surprise” effect was not available anymore, but her reaction (along with mine) the first time we tried was very expressive. Recording such moments could be very compelling.