Synthetic X-Factor


'We're producing a sequence of poems to be delivered by an artificial voice medium. The playback system will have a sculptural presence in the environment, and the texts that will test the boundary between the embodied voice implied by the poem-form and the disembodied replication of that voice by a machine. Expect haunting shifts between the illusion of an idiomatic, rhythmic presence and an informative, dead-pan absence.'


A project based around synthetic speech production – to produce ‘sound poetry’.

Members: Darren Reed, Paul Elsam, Paul Barker,  Mark Blythe and John Clarke


Two stages:-

  1. Poetry production – pact as provocateur, visiting education institutions (e.g. primary schools) to help pupils create sound poems. Leaders or participants select a single ‘winner’.  Could be grouped by age.
  2. Selection: at this stage, any potential voters can access a website and vote ‘X-Factor’ style, with proceeds going to a related charity.

Stage 3 would allow website visitors to create their own sound poem.


We would specify the initial ‘voice’ – a vocal identity.  However, we are aware that there are numerous cultural considerations to consider.


  • We see this linking in to social media.  Workshop leader/poet would need a laptop with facility for entering and uploading material.
  • Website needed or Facebook Page?
  • Ability to manipulate ‘identity’ using software, e.g. localised accents or project could be locally situated (e.g. a Yorkshire Sound Poem).
  • Identity could be TV personality – e.g. ‘Paul the Weather Man’.  (BBC Local).
  • BBC could be approached to broadcast winning poem.