Halsey Burgund is a musician and sound artist living outside Boston. Both his installations and musical performances make extensive use of spoken human voice recordings as musical elements, alongside traditional and electronic instruments. He collects these voices from otherwise uninvolved individuals whom he records in various locations, from museums to street corners to rock clubs, via in-person interviews, smartphone apps and the internet. In many ways, Halsey's work is a combination of socio-anthropological 'research', musical documentary and contributory experience.
Halsey has exhibited and performed in museums and galleries internationally, including the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Puke Ariki Museum (NZ), Tyne & Wear Archive and Museums, Newcastle, UK, the Museum of Science, Boston and the California Academy of Sciences. He was awarded a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship to explore their audio archives for future work and is currently a fellow in MIT’s Open Documentary Lab as well as a Research Affiliate at the MIT Media Lab.
Halsey conceived and developed the open-source Roundware audio platform for his installation work which enables the creation of contributory, location-based audio experiences. Halsey's work with Roundware has led him beyond his individual artwork to working on educational audio projects at various museums and cultural institutions - including the Smithsonian, UNESCO and the Exploratorium - as well as investigating the uses of Roundware for accessibility purposes for people with vision impairments.
People say interesting things; and they say them in interesting ways.
The voices I collect from otherwise uninvolved individuals become the raw material as well as the inspiration for both my installations and my musical compositions. The nuance of the spoken human voice has a unique ability to communicate much more than the words themselves, and I try to tap into this power and enhance it with the music I compose using the voices.
As I develop my pieces, I like to create a balance of control over the results between myself as the artist, the individuals who have contributed their voices and the directed randomness of the algorithmic systems I have designed to evolve the musical elements over time. I am drawn to results which surprise even myself as the creator; there is something extremely exciting – and somewhat nerve-wracking – about never knowing exactly what my own work is going to sound like, look like or feel like.
In many ways, my work is a combination of socio-anthropological ‘research’, musical documentary and participatory experience. I try to collectively represent various human experiences and ultimately my own artistic voice through the personal expressions of a myriad of participants.