Graphic designers often refer to typefaces as principle elements that offer ‘voice’ to their work.
A typeface’s origin and historiography embeds printed language with cultural context and stereotypes, much in the way regional dialects do in speech. Speech is individuated and specific, like the quality of hand writing. Typography added efficiency and speed to the distribution of writing, what does it mean now that voices are stored in the same dropdown interface as fonts? Each of these voices offer their own quirks, Sammantha is recognizable as Siri, Alex is surprisingly ‘breathy’, Susan a bit tinny.
As the fidelity of these voices improve and can be implemented without being filtered through an individual performer, we should ask ourselves what it means to approach the voice, typographically.
After these experiments I worked with Hyung Cho to develop a rag tag piece of D.I.Y. software called Mantra Builder. A set of command prompts were housed in a zip file, once activated the scripts asked the user to sacrifice administrative controls to open text edit, system preferences, and iTunes in a step by step process. Each step guided the user to type a repetitive phrase and generate an MP3 which could be listened to daily. We took reference from cult leaders and gurus who cultivate obedience through repetition and ritual, as well as a Silicon Valley trope of personal optimization and self-help. The software assists the user in packaging these tracks as an E.P. and even assists in the generation of cover art.