The Art of Collecting Voices: An Interview with Sound Artist Halsey Burgund

Halsey Burgund, sound artist, musician, fellow at MIT’s Open Documentary and Media Lab and creator of Roundware, an open source audio platform, is fascinated by the human voice. He has been collecting voices for over a decade. Over the years, he has created little communities of voices, songs, sound installations, and all sorts of musical spoken voice related pieces from his aural collections. As an artist, Burgund is fascinated by the nuance of the human voice, from the emotions and experiences conveyed in a spoken word to its rhythms and, as he hears it, its more musical aspects.  This year, during Miami Art Week, Miami had the privilege of having Burgund’s sonic creativity and documentary interest focused on our city with unreserved, a sound art project that uses voice recorded into a smartphone app as the medium.

Inspired by the desire to free up space for expressive freedom in Wynwood’s increasingly curated landscape, Burgund, in collaboration with Fordistas, dreamed up a sonic intervention that would get people to open up and leave an audio imprint, like a form of audio graffiti, and called it unreserved. The project, which was previewed at the Perez Art Museum Miami during its Third Thursday Poplife Social Event on November 19, 2015 and launched as a sound installation at the Fordistas Gallery in West Wynwood during Miami Art Week, remains available for download on the APP Store as part of an evolving collage of sound.

Culture Designers recently had the chance to chat with Halsey Burgund to learn more about the inspiration behind collecting voices, participatory sound art and unreserved.

Preview of unreserved at the Perez Art Museum Miami. PHOTO CREDIT: Cris Ramos

You are both a musician and sound artist, how would you define sound art? 

I would define it as anything auditory that is arranged in some way by human interaction. My brand of sound art is very close to music in that I use the standard musical elements of pitch, melody, rhythm etc., but I generally consider it sound art instead of music because it contains lots of spoken voices, exists in space, is evolving over time and is experienced flexibly by different listeners.

As its creator, how would you say open source, participatory software such as Roundware, has changed the way people experience art?

Open-source software has certainly had a very significant effect on the production of art as artists continue to embrace new technology and hack it for their needs and this behavior is at the core of the open-source movement. Also, open-source software tends to be cheaper, more flexible and often more esoteric than commercial options.

As far as experiencing art goes, software in general has allowed for a full emergence of interactive and participatory artworks. People no longer expect that a work of art is a single static entity, but rather could be something that they have some effect on and that they will experience in a unique way. Open-source software plays a large role in this emergence, but proprietary software plays a significant role as well.


Preview of unreserved at the Perez Art Museum Miami. PHOTO CREDIT: Cris Ramos

What inspired you to begin collecting voices?

 I don’t know why I became fascinated with voices but there’s something about the spoken voice that’s so personal. It’s like an audio fingerprint and so much more is communicated with speech, with spoken voice than with text. Text communicates the semantics of the words, but it doesn’t communicate any of the emotion and the experience that people bring to it. There’s so much nuance that happens as I’m speaking right now and there’s so much of who I am that’s coming through in very subtle ways. As an artist, I like to take advantage of those subtleties and use the voice not only as a way of diving into who people are but also in a very musical way. As I’m speaking right now there are pitches, there are rhythms, there are these musical aspects to my voice that are fascinating to extract in more musical ways.

And now, with technology, I can reach out very far. I feel like I have little microphones that I can stick out anywhere in the world, just by having people download an app and participate.

Engaging with unreserved at the Perez Art Museum Miami. PHOTO CREDIT: Cris Ramos

How would you define unreserved as a project?

I could define it in so many different ways. It’s a sound art project. It’s a music project. It’s a collaboration between myself as the artist and everybody who participates in the project. It’s a very participatory project. It’s a project that is evolving over time as more people contribute. The more people contribute, the more layers are built up and the more diverse the project becomes.

How is unreserved unique in relation to other projects you have worked on?

The basic concept of creating an evolving location-based and contributory augmentation of a physical space is consistent with much of my work recently.

The big differences for me were first, working in a culture that has two dominant and equally important languages. In the past, I have separated languages into silos, but that made zero sense in this situation since Spanish and English are used interchangeably throughout all of Miami.

The gallery installation was a new element as well. I have had gallery installations in tandem with “on-the-street” installations, but this one was more integrated and designed in a different way than previous ones. I like the idea of participants making recordings in-situ and then having them gradually “migrate” to the gallery where they can interact with each other in ways that are very different than how they interact on the streets.

Official launch of unreserved at Fordistas Gallery in West Wynwood during Miami Art Week. PHOTO CREDIT: David Turk

Official launch of unreserved at Fordistas Gallery in West Wynwood during Miami Art Week. PHOTO CREDIT: David Turk

What has it been like working with a platform like Fordistas for this project?

We have a really nice overlap. I don’t do marketing very well. My work is invisible and therefore it needs that help and thought process. Fordistas and the Product 81 team is very experienced with that and they’ve brought a huge number of ideas to the table that have affected what I’m going to do aesthetically and, of course, what we’re going to do from a getting it out there perspective. We both are conceptually bound to the same ideas and we have very different areas of expertise that are complimentary.

I think I should have you guys follow me around for every project I do and it would be much, much better.

What do you envision people getting out of their participation with unreserved?

I hope to encourage participants to think and look at their surroundings in a more creative and flexible way. I am trying to create an environment in which people will open up and be inspired to contribute something about them that is unique and meaningful to them.

I also hope they take some ownership, for example, leaving a recording in a specific spot that other people will be able to hear in the future, for years. I hope people gravitate towards the idea of taking ownership of a certain location and putting a stamp on it, a non-physical stamp that nonetheless is there.

Can you describe the most beautiful thing you see?

That’s one of the questions within the app right now and it’s a wonderful question because a lot of times people don’t think about the beauty that’s around them.

There are a lot of beautiful things. I have a hard time answering that question right now because I’m from Boston. I flew down here this morning and it’s cold and not colorful. I’m down here now and I’m like, WOW! We’re standing here on the bay and I see buildings, I see lights, I see the colors purple and orange on the bridge, and there’s this beautiful curve that the bridge makes and there’s another bridge down there that’s reminiscent of that one and behind us is the wonderful Herzog & de Meuron façade, which is incredible.

View from the Perez Art Museum Miami. PHOTO CREDIT: Catalina Ramírez

It’s kind of a lame answer to say that there are so many things and I can’t decide what’s the most beautiful, but I think the most beautiful thing is the fact that I’m here right now and I’m experiencing it and, you know, it’s something I’ve got to remember.

I hope you do…!

INTERVIEW BY: Catalina Ramírez

unreserved is currently available for Download on the APP Store. Record your audio graffiti.

FORDISTAS is a platform for emerging arts and culture powered by South Florida Ford. To learn more, visit



Pechakucha Night Miami #31: Miami Obscura and the Art of Presentation

On Wednesday, August 26, 2015, Miami will host its 31st PechaKucha program in collaboration with Fordistas.  Its theme is Miami Obscura:  Uncovering the History of the Magic City’s Best Kept Secrets.  PechaKucha, a Japanese term for the sound of chit-chat, is an informal gathering that showcases the art of sharing ideas through a rapidly paced presentation made up of 20 images shown for 20 seconds each.  Originally conceived in Tokyo, Japan in 2003 by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham Architecture, as a platform for designers to get together and present their work, PechKucha has evolved into a medium for creative people of all disciplines to show and share their passions, projects, ideas and art for the love and fun of it.  Currently part of a global network and occurring in over 700 cities around the world, the event has had a home in Miami for the past seven years.

PechaKucha typically finds its home in unique spaces that allow for thinking and drinking where the format of the PowerPoint is liberated to accommodate performance, poetry and entertainment, making of it a true experiment in the art of presentation.  The Miami edition of PechaKucha has been housed in venues as varied as Rooftop Garden in the Design District, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, the Bass Museum and the Wolfsonian-FIU.  This time around, it will be held in the historic and ever chic Deauville Beach Resort on Collins Avenue where six local luminaries will shed light on and bring to life the unexplored and the unexpected that make magic of this fascinatingly vibrant city.

Won’t you join us for an invigorating night of thought provoking Miami Obscura? If so, prepare to be enlightened and amused.



My House Is Your House

FORD15TAS PRESENTS: As Serious As Your Life - A Tone Poem for Dilla

FORD15TAS PRESENTS: As Serious As Your Life – A Tone Poem for Dilla

It is often the case that the best things in life are shared. Join Product/81 Creative Lab andButter Gallery this Basel season when it opens its doors to welcome the great city of Detroit as part of the collaborative exhibition, Mi Casa es su Casa.  This collaboration, inspired by the differences and similarities surrounding Miami & Detroit, will be hosted in both the Product/81 Creative Lab and the Gesamtkunstwerk building. The weeklong program, designed to house the creative community, will include a series of events, talks and a shared workspace. [2930 nw 7th ave. 33127]

The festivities commence on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 with a Launch Party + Vernissage (@7pm) featuring DJ sets by legendary Detroit producers Dez Andres + Rick Wilhite + Moodyman (by invitation only)Followed by a series of afternoon talks (Weds. – Fri.) with special guest speakers.

We have invited Miami Curator Torrance Gettrell to commission the work of the famed photo-duo Mochilla to create a heartfelt tribute to the late Detroit born + raised producer James “Dilla” Yancey in visual form.  The exhibition will include a photo installation as well as film/video and poster art titled, As Serious As Your Life: A Tone Poem for Dilla: From Conant Garden.

In the spirit of collaboration, the Creative Lab will be an open house during the exhibition (Wed.- Sun.) – a welcoming space + lounge for the Global community to recharge (Fri., Dec. 6 – Happy Hour with sounds by Mr. Pauer) or to decompress (Sun., Dec. 8 – Closing w/ special guest DJ).

Wifi and Coffee will be provided.

The Fordistas program is a platform for emerging arts + culture powered by South Florida Ford.

Welcome to The Production Line

Fordistas 14 - 2Alas

The Production Line is an immersive experience by the street art duo 2Alas commissioned by South Florida Ford as part of the Fordistas program.

Inspired by Henry Ford and the industrial innovations of the early 20th century, The Production Line seeks to recreate the process and vintage style of mass manufacturing by converting Product/81 Gallery into a screen-printing factory.

Working under the banner Made in Wynwood, the artist will produce 25 limited edition prints by process of assembly line in a series of precisely controlled sequential steps. Visitors can follow the floor map throughout the space to experience each point in the process.

Receive 1 of 25 limited edition prints from The Production Line.

Be among the first 25 to upload a photo to Instagram  #Fordistas #MadeinWynwood

The Fordistas program is a platform for emerging arts & culture – powered by South Florida Ford.

The Symmetry of Yuri Tuma

By Natology

There is a universal formula at the basis of all design. Whether it’s in the three-dimensional structure of an atom or the blueprint of a building, a beautiful mathematical equation lays at the foundation of all form. To see the world in shapes, colors, and lines is a blessing. To capture it, mold it, construct it and deconstruct it is another story. Yuri Tuma sees the world in the form of abstract symmetry, which he’s applied to creating a visual language where images replace numbers and patterns shape the conversation.

Yuri Tuma is a Brazilian artist based in Miami, Florida whose art matches the balance of his personality and the vibrational frequency of his name. In other words, Tuma has a harmonious nature that is reflected in his work. He is a photographer who uses shapes and linear structure to develop symmetrical patterns that mirror the nature of design. There is a left-brain and right-brain balance in his work that merges math and intuition to illustrate an understanding of universal geometry. Represented by the established and rebellious Butter Gallery, Tuma has had four solo exhibitions (2008 – 2013) alongside group shows and art fairs in New York and Shanghai. In his fifth solo exhibition, Tuma presents Headlights at Product/81 Gallery, opening Saturday August 10, 2013 in Miami, Fl.  Commissioned by Fordistas, Headlights presents the study of formulaic patterns and optical-symmetry inspired by the headlights of Ford automobiles.. Tuma sees the application of nature’s patterns in man-made structures, which he presents through a kaleidoscopic lens that makes the inorganic, organic. Here’s a sneak peak of Tuma’s latest body of work for Fordistas! fordistas13EVITE




Fordistas 7 Exhibition this Saturday

This Saturday the Product/81 Gallery will once again host two of our favorite artists in Miami, Viviana Molinares and Agnieszka Nowinska, for series 7 of the Fordistas Exhibition. After showcasing her deeply personal “Locked  Out” with us last month, Viviana will share the stage with Agnieszka – whose hugely popular work helped make our Rebuilding Japan fundraiser in March such a success.


Locked Out

Fordistas 6 in April will feature Miami artist Viviana Molinares. Viviana brings a strength and level of refined talent unlike any artist we’ve featured before. Her first solo exhibition entitled “Locked Out” is an intimate look at her struggles and triumphs over the past year. The vernissage for “Locked Out” will be Saturday, April 14th during Art Walk at the Product/81 Gallery at 2311 NW 2nd Ave in Wynwood. 

Metro Zu 4 U

Wynwood Art Walk is tomorrow night and the P81 team has been prepping for it all week.  Right now we’re packaging the limited edition T-Shirts we’re giving away designed by the guys from Metro Zu. The Zu crew was just featured in a post on Crossfade promoting an upcoming show at The Stage. Check out both events for a night of food, drinks, giveaways and music.

Sweat the small stuff

If you’ve spent any time by the pool at The Standard (perhaps you’re impossibly good-looking) you might have noticed the playful chalkboard drawings greeting you at the entrance. The simple flashes of color and creativity are a daily treat welcomed by regulars of the hotel, who have come to know and appreciate the artist behind them. However, as they say, that is only his day job. Marcello Ibanez has been a photographer since he was a child. Focusing on small, unusual items like antique or collectible toys, he finds beauty in things people often overlook. He’ll have the first major exhibition of his work as part of the Fordistas Series at the Yo ♥ 305 gallery during the Wynwood Art Walk this Saturday from 6-11pm. We asked Marcello a few questions about his work, and what inspires him.