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Taking a Look at My Favorite Sound—Turning Words of Wisdom into Beautiful Art

If public speaking is a form of art, then those famous speaking snippets—from memorable speeches, powerful sound bites to well-timed digs in the debates—can be masterpieces. Bill Seaver and Nathan Moore, two innovators from Nashville, are able to take this idea to the next level.  Epic Frequency, their new company, takes the aural high points in history and transforms them into visual showpieces for households.

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This Epic Frequency print captures the famous line from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address on January 20, 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” *Image source: Epic Frequency.

This fantastic idea came from one evening four years ago. At that time, Seaver was a social marketing consultant and Moore was a web developer. They were recording their monthly podcast on new media and technology. It suddenly struck the two of them that the jagged audio waveform in the recording software was so eye-catching. They thought, why not pick up some of the most significant speeches and audio clips in history and print out the corresponding waveforms in bright colors on a large black canvass?

Then, they took action immediately and Epic Frequency launched with nine initial offerings. The initial works of art include Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall,” Neil Armstrong’s “One Small Step,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Fear Itself,” Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream,” John F. Kennedy’s “Ask Not,” Albert Einstein’s explanation of “E=MC2,” President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration speech and, not to ignore this election season, both Mitt Romney and President Obama‘s convention speeches.

Moore noted that their criteria for choosing clips is “reflected in our name”—the speech has to be epic. “The audio we selected comes from one that has played a vital role in our history. Often, these are moments that really defined that era. They are glimpses into our past that altered our way of looking at the world,” he says.

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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech—“I Have a Dream”.

 

On the side of each work, there is a QR code. Viewers could scan the barcode using their cellphones to get access a mobile version of the print, coming with the actual audio overlaid on it. Through this way, one is able to listen to the original speech and follow along with the valleys and peaks of the waveform.

It is clearly that Epic Frequency has built a bridge between art and history. However, how does this concept combine art and science? What attributes of sound are learned from these works? The artworks themselves are data, so, what can viewers get from them?

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Neil Armstrong “One Small Step.” *Image source: Epic Frequency.

 “The reason that we have continuously been fascinated is that the information can be uncovered via analyzing the waveforms,” Moore says. “Since the amplitude of sound is represented, then cadence and volume become apparent immediately.” Seaver noted that according to a visual comparison of the speeches, he discovered that President Obama’s speaking style is similar to that of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The two co-founders have their artistic preferences. They believe that the shorter the recording, the more visually appealing it is, because the difference of sound and silences are more pronounced in the waveforms. Moore said that when they were looking at the “One Small Step” print, you can almost hear Armstrong’s words of wisdom, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” uttered on July 21, 1969.

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Albert Einstein’s explanation of “E=MC2”. *Image source: Epic Frequency.

Epic frequency will also venture into personal histories. They will create custom prints according to audio clips that are provided by customers. “We definitely have some interesting requests,” Moore says. “Most of them are either romantic or sentimental in nature, such as ‘I Love You,’ wedding vows or a baby’s first cry.”

Source: SmithsonianInstitution, Turn Your Favorite Words of Wisdom into Beautiful Art

Image source: Epic Frequency

 

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