Skip navigation


Alex Davies

Flutter is a multi – channel sound installation concerning the dynamics of communication between individuals in physical and social space. Comprised of an array of 16 speakers located through the gallery, the work presents several thousand recordings of individuals aged from six to sixty playing the children’s game ‘Chinese whispers.’ Messages are passed from one individual to the next, progressively evolving over time as a diversity of interpretation colours the transmissions.

Flutter speculates upon the individual’s perception of communication and examines the dynamics of sound in space. The speaker array enables the distribution of sound through the installation, providing specific control over its location, speed and volume. Sound is therefore transformed from a static entity to a vigorous pathway for spatial communications to take place. The shuffling audio in flutter provides an engaging and strangely intimate experience due to the close proximity recording of the whispers. The work provides a macro view of this micro process by enabling the audience an unique overview of all the permeations of the communication progress, otherwise impossible to perceive in its original form.

By reconstructing the culturally universal activity of whispering, flutter explores social perception, focusing on the aspects of unencumbered imagination often particular to childhood. The recordings survey a range of responses that investigate the influence of social, cultural, and psychological conditioning on audio cognition and vocal responses.
Flutter is an experiment in the evolutionary nature of communication. It asks what determines the outcome of a ‘Chinese whisper,’ hypothesizing the delicate balance between permutations of random cognitive connections and expressions of subconscious conditioning. By rephrasing the ‘nature versus nurture’ question, flutter explores how imagination and control interact through the constructs of language to place the individual within society.

Extrapolated to a broader social model, this concept demonstrates the layers and filters inherent in all forms of communication such as broadcast media. The complex path of a simple message questions the objectivity of ‘truth’ when described with language.
Flutter explores those organic processes of communication (sound) that exist between the sending and receiving of signs (words.) For example, the audience may find that some of the variations to the ‘message’ that occur are pure and beautiful misunderstandings (mutations), but some draw from pre-existing thoughts (conditioning) that determine how we interpret each other.

– via 
– via 
– via 
– via