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Creative Lab Residency
Jack Wansbrough

Mon 14 May — Sun 27 May 2018

In the tape library of the Communication Research Institute there is a collection of hi-fidelity tapes of the sounds and ultrasounds made by the bottlenose dolphin, both in the wild and the captive state. These recordings from 1962 to 1967 capture John C Lilly’s attempts to understand dolphin communication and eventually to try and teach a dolphin English. On tape, Peter talks through his blow hole, at times using the water’s surface like a lip to approximate human consonants. When Peter says Margaret, his voice is architectural as well as bodily. It speaks with the water as much as the dolphin.

Without ignoring or making light of deeply problematic aspects of the Lilly's research, the residency will focus on the linguistic implications and sonic quality of the recordings. Lilly understands the difference between human and dolphin vocalisations largely in terms of playback speed. His recordings are a starting point for a collection of Cold-War audio, to be played and processed, looking for resonance between disparate early uses of audiotape, and ways that understanding has been stretched around the idiosyncrasies of its formats.

jackwansbrough.com