This is a Voice, Wellcome Collection

This is a Voice Exhibition
Client: Wellcome Collection
April-July 31, 2016 / Touring to Powerhouse Museum, Sydney in 2017
Work under Plaid
Curator Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz
Graphic design: Europa


A contemporary art exhibition with complex acoustic requirements for a wide range of display mediums: sound, films, artefacts and live performances. The challenge was to design a subtle space that enabled the audience to embody the exhibits without a loud overpowering language.

The concept of the design was skin. The journey began with a narrow anechoic chamber as a transitional space. The throat like, soft sound absorbant tunnel quietened the mind from the outside world and prepared the body for inner listening. Then an open landscape appeared with a series of pavilions inviting the audience to activate their senses through movement, touch and auditory perceptions.

Tactile materials were assembled to evoke the configuration of the human body: silicone and mesh represented the skin, insulation evoked the softness of the flesh and the building’s structure resembled the bones. Pavilions and walls became the sensorial skin; containers that allowed the audience to embody a complex auditory journey of birds, melodies, screams and sounds. The walls and seating were soft so that one could lean into them providing a grounding and familiarity that offset the sometimes unsettling experience of the exhibits.


“We inhabit a world full of voices. Our lives play out to a soundtrack of whispers, screams, commands, laughter and songs. A cry announces our first entry into the world, and the voice emerging from inside us acts as an indicator of physical and emotional health. The result of a sophisticated synchronisation between our respiratory and digestive systems, voices can also arise from other sources, such as spiritual guides, the subconscious, or machines that mimic speech. Elusive, immaterial, yet infinitely textured, our voices can fill large spaces or be lost completely.” exhibition catalogue



Second photograph by: Michael Bowles
All other photographs by Leon Chew