2006. Nicole Cousino + Chris Vecchio. SPEAKHERE! (2005.12 / theoretical data)



SPEAKHERE! links bodies across space through sound. By setting up a speaker’s “hole” mounted on a busy intersection of Madrid and a speaker mounted in a park, plaza or alternate public space, personal songs, words, utterances or whispers will be transmitted in real-time to an unsuspecting audience.



SPEAKHERE! is an interactive sound installation with two main components. At one location, (on a street or busy public passage way) a small tube will be installed into a wall or free-standing object. Inside the tube will be a GMRS 3 watt radio transmitter and microphone set up to work as a sending device. A small sign will be mounted next to the tube, inviting visitors/passer-byers to speak into the tube/hole. The sound will then be transmitted, in real time, to a public address (PA) speaker that has been mounted on a tree or a post in a park or other suitable public space. Inside the PA speaker will be another GMRS 3 watt radio that will act as the receiver. The radio is attached to a small amplification unit, used to amplify the sound out the PA speaker. What ever is then spoken, uttered, sung, whispered will be amplified out into the public space that may be a location blocks or miles away from the speaker’s “hole”.

Based loosely on the concept of the Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, London, SPEAKHERE! differs in that it provides the speaker/participant with anonymity. Its about the liberation and empowerment of expressing one’s self in public without the neurosis of being on view before a listening audience.

Expressing one’s ideas or opinions in a public space can be seen to be a contentious or political act and is often shunned, especially in urban cities. Usually the only voice projected in the public space is that of the state or a religious entity. This project provides an opportunity for a diverse array of individuals of various cultures, languages, perspectives, attitudes and opinions to express themselves to a potential audience.

The receiving end…

The second difference between the Speaker’s Corner and SPEAKHERE! is that the one speaking into the “hole” will not know if there is a listener on the other end. Is one speaking to the wind, the trees, a crowd of elderly hard of hearing, police officers or children or…? But, if there is an audience listening, SPEAKHERE! aims to transform the public space by injecting it with a sense of the unanticipated and spontaneous. The installation also attempts to a link geographical spaces - from the location of the speaker’s “hole” to that of the public space/park where the PA speaker would be mounted.



When the piece was installed in Chicago, IL, USA the signage surrounding the Speaker’s “hole” said

Speak freely, rant, rave, articulate, sing, sputter, vocalize your thoughts, ideas, poems, songs, utterances to an audience of pedestrians, commuters, wonderers, lingerers, loiterers, citizens, associates, comrades, friends, sisters, brothers, cats, birds, foliage, inanimate objects, unseen forces, the ether, bread crumbs…

For Madrid the text that invites one to participate could be specific to Madrid or it could also change each week asking passer-byers to speak out about particular topics, questions, etc.


(December 2005)