PROBE II, Subaudition


Subaudition: The act of understanding or supplying something not expressed, a reading between the lines. -- Merriam-Webster


PROBE Series II is the second work in the PROBE Series by Benjamin Bacon. The series explores the design of extra-planetary machines that imitate human sensory systems in observing human life and behavior on earth.

PROBE II: Subaudition is a binary set of these extra-planetary machines that investigate and apply machine learning methods of speech to text recognition to explore the concept of subaudition through the translation, degradation, and misinterpretation of meaning in spoken language to binary information, transmitted between the two machines and expressed as kinetic tapping and light.


Machine I: Recognition. Decoding. Transmission.


The microphone on Machine I captures the human voice, environmental sounds, and directional position of the participants. When motion is triggered and detected, it encodes the spoken language into text and then into morse code that is communicated kinetically through solenoid tapping and transmits the machines interpretation of the information to Machine II.

Machine II: Receiver. Pattern Emitter.

Machine II collects and re-interprets the transmitted information and transforms it into non-verbal light projections into the space through a mechanism of mirrored surfaces and a rotating cylinder with slits.

The two machines in Probe II: Subaudition together imitate the human ear and language processing system in the brain, where audio signals are picked up and translated into an internal language to our bodies. Environmental sounds, mistranslation within the machine, glitches of the ML model due to data training limitations all contribute to an interesting dynamic where the machines almost exhibit their own interpretation of human language.

This piece will be exhibited at Art Laboratory Berlin August 2021 at the Under the Viral Shadow: Networks in the Age of Technoscience and Infection exhibition. You can find reviews of the work and exhibition at Art Link BerlinArt-in-Berlin, and Clot Magazine.

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Machine I Structural Drawings

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Machine II Structural Drawings

Expanded diagrams of Machine I and Machine II.

Keywords: Subaudition, Machine Life, Networked Communication, Machine Learning, Text to Speech, Mechanical Installation, Extra-Planetary, Speculative Design

Software: Linux (Raspberry Pi), Tensor Flow: Deep Speech, Python, C and Arduino Code.

Hardware: Solenoids, LED, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Custom PCBs, Microphone, RF Transmitter and Receiver, Motors, Stainless Steel.

Video Credits 

Shot by: Bei Chen

Edited by: Vivian Xu

Sound Design by: Benjamin Bacon

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Probe II: Subaudition, Machine I. 2021.

Photographed by Jinyu Liu.

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Probe II: Subaudition, Machine II. 2021.

Photographed by Jinyu Liu.

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Probe II: Subaudition, Machine I. Renderings in natural environment. 2021.

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Probe II: Subaudition, Machine II. Renderings in natural environment. 2021.