Have you ever dreamt of giving a speech at the White House, or perhaps addressing a television audience with your own State of the Nation? Do you think you could help solve the world’s problems, if only you could get your voice heard in the mainstream media?

By re-purposing a technology originally developed in the nineteen-twenties to encrypt voices for secure radio communications - and later used to funky effect by Kraftwerk, Peter Frampton and Afrika Bamabaataa, we are building a machine that channels the voice of the common person, and amplifies it in an authoritative medium.

The Soapbox Vocoder works by breaking down and analyzing the speaker’s voice and reconstituting it in a powerful way. Participants are placed at a news desk or podium where they deliver a speech into a microphone. The Soapbox Vocoder then recreates the speech on a nearby screen as a television broadcast by a famous politician or celebrity.

We will invite participants to choose from a selection of (in)famous speeches. They will be able to share their views and create personal and social amplifications of their ideas, possibly even engaging in staged debates with politicians on video or with other participants.

The Soapbox Vocoder team consists of Chiara Bernasconi and Spencer Kiser, artists and researchers who met as colleagues in the Digitial Media Department at a large arts institution. Their aim is to build an apolitical tool for people to engage in critical, silly, and/or meaningful interpretations of world and local politics.