In Babel, the human voice is used to produce a swirling and cacophonous tower of the spoken word. The concept of the piece is to create a phalanx of sound through the repitition of a simple phrase which is spoken in many languages (English, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, Swahili, Greek, Latin, etc). The phrase is ‘they are one people and have one language’, which was taken from the Genesis chapter in the Old Testament which describes the Tower of Babel. The phrase is combined with the repetition of the word/name ‘Babel’ which unsurprisingly sound similar in most languages.

The design employs terracotta vases that would be stacked in groups of four, facing each cardinal point. Each layer of the tower of vases is off set at forty-five degrees to the layer below and made up of progressively smaller vases. A specific diameter speaker is mounted in the throat of each vase which allows for sound to be projected outward in a directional manner but also affords the bulging base of the vase to act as a resonant chamber. The different layers and speaker sizes have a different frequency response to the phrases and languages being transmitted through them. The bott om layers responding to deeper masculine voices and more nasal sounding dialects and producing a low reverberating and non-directional sound field while the top layers respond to the higher register of the female voice and the more staccato dialects and provide piercing directi onal sound effects.

The sound sculpture is to be wired as four stereo channels that do not reinforce the qualities of the individual horizontal layers but define the structure as four interconnected spirals. In this way the soundscape can be composed and orchestrated to create a cascading vortex of sound that circles the sculpture and seems to be ascending to the heavens. The amplitude of the soundscape is to be calibrated so that the sculpture is not merely working as a giant speaker box, rather the piece seeks to achieve an aural presence in the way that the voices seem to inhabit the spaces of the vases and ripple along the hardened clay surfaces. In this approach, the sound field is kept in close proximity to the physical form so that the two become inseparable elements of the same entity.