Hosting Curious Replicas

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ABOUT THE PIECE (link to public webpage)
Curious Replicas invites you to style your voice as easily as you style your hair. Add bounce, curl, frizz, wave, shine, and then puff up your voice’s body. Shorten it like a barber or add jazzy extensions in this unusual voice salon. As you do this, feel your voice caress your skin with changing qualities of vibration – like running your hand through your newly styled hair. Listen to it change on a phone receiver, or broadcast it through the room, or play in between – shy adults, mischievous teens and boisterous children can all enjoy. Your voice is reflected back to you – your new sonic self shimmers forth, as subtly, or as vibrantly, as you like. Part hairdressing station, part cockpit, part dressing table, and part studio, our intriguing console’s look and feel brings you inside the intimate world of the touch of your vocal stylings. Passersby enjoy you. Look into our unusual mirror of sound and touch and invent your own Curious Replicas.
How are voice and hair alike? Each day, we make choices about our hair. We shape it, style it, or leave it alone. We colour it, texture it, and sculpt it. We regret, or celebrate, its loss. Yet, strangely, our hair is actually dead. It is made by our bodies, and is attached to them, but is not alive. It is of us, but not us, and yet we make it represent us.

In an intimate and sensual atmosphere of playful fun, Curious Replicas draws attention to the similarities between hair and voice. Just like our hair, our voices straddle the genetic and the cultural. We’re born with our fundamental vocal anatomy, but we shape our sounds with the dances of our tongues and faces. They resonate out from us differently due to the differing shapes of our skulls. Then, we add languages, accents, genders, attitudes, and social roles… We style our voices all the time. Our voices are… wigs!

Through engaging with this artwork, actively or as a listener, audience are introduced to another kind of vocal creativity. They mould their voices like clay. They style their vocal wigs. They become someone else – someone else *they* invent. They make their own voice-art. Of course, wigs and hair are touchable. They have tactile texture. So, Curious Replicas lends your voice texture too. Shimmering up through your spine, the subtle changes in your vibration resonate in your seat. Our innovative ultrasound array lets you feel your voice’s touch-qualities massage your very palm. You bathe in your vocal stylings.

In a world where publics are told – indirectly or directly – that their voices aren’t good enough, beautiful enough, male or female enough, powerful enough, soft enough, or controlled enough to be beautiful, to take up space, and to radiate outward, Curious Replicas carves out a space where everyone’s voice can be shaped and styled, just like the professionals’. It winks at long histories of digital manipulation of voice in art, with joyful and immersive sensory overwhelm, and introduces time-based touch art to the world.

Based in our extensive learning on how to engage audiences in digital installation from Yvon Bonenfant’s Voice Trunk – which has now reached some 230K audience – Curious Replicas invites all ages to reimagine their vocal selves and to literally touch their vocal creativity.

Learn more on the ethos behind Tract and Touch’s work.

Learn more about what we are.

Listen to some of our sounds. For more radio-friendly files, contact us.

“Curious Replicas was installed in the Civic Centre’s lobby area, below the main entrance to the Southampton City Art Gallery, for three weeks, during the time we hosted British Art Show 8. The lobby area is shared with the Central Library, and benefitted from many passers-by, particularly children and families. The work was intriguing and playful. Children of all ages were attracted to the shape of the work, and often paved the way for their accompanying adults to use it; visiting school groups would explore at length if allowed. However, plenty of adults – particularly in the 20-30s demographic, also explored the work. Some users experimented for brief periods, however, others would dwell on the work and create extended soundscapes that resonated through the lobby and even up into the main gallery. While some users were relatively shy, and kept the sonic controls of the piece on ‘private’, most tried broadcasting their sounds through the space. There were times where extended sequences of sound would echo into the nooks and crannies of our main exhibition space; however, this never felt invasive, as the audio levels were tuned to our needs.

Overall, the work added texture, sonic colour, and tactility to our environment. Its playful engagement with the materiality of the voice, its willingness to attract touch and grappling with its surfaces, and the vibration of its seat and hand array all worked together to bring the public inside challenging questions around the voice, and around the nature of the human voice today – shaped by digital manipulation as much as by our bodies – while remaining warm and friendly for the user. It did this while enabling the user to create audio art of their own, where a sort of ‘vocal becoming’ of the body blended with a sonic and visual becoming of its surroundings. The burnished brass ‘mirror’, audio feedback and controls sent another kind of self out into the world, and made that self visible and audible for the user. You could say that these moments of sensory blending were beautiful, in an unusual and exciting way.

When Tract and Touch collaborated with artist Harold Offeh to activate Curious Replicas, a festive, frolicksome and conversational atmosphere emerged where the users played with their visual images as much as their sound. The library of wigs offered to them offered up interesting opportunities to consider more deeply the way we style both our visual images and our vocal utterances, in a spirit of fun.

We are delighted to have supported the bringing of this work to Southampton’s publics.”

-Jessica Whitfield, Exhibitions, City Art Gallery, Southampton

  • In public space: children of all ages, right from age 3-4, respond with gusto to the installation and break the ice for older children and adults. Small family groups and mixed age audiences use it with verve
  • We have also had many users in the 18-35 demographic in public space, with a strong emphasis on the 20-27 year old age range.
  • With Harold Offeh and the Wig Library: Harold really entices older and shyer users to grapple with the work and stimulates really interesting conversations about the voice, about identity, and about each person’s vocal history. He also works fantastically with party-style environments – the wigs create an atmosphere of fun.
  • Festivals: The installation works well with adults who’ve had one or two drinks or who are in party mood. The wigs, the design, and the atmosphere all work together.
  • Contemporary art, music, performance-style audiences: Audiences open to identity play – audiences for contemporary art, contemporary music and live art, will all use the installation with curiosity and interest, with or without Harold.
  • On a busy Saturday, we have counted up to 127 users per hour in the relatively calm Southampton Civic Centre lobby space, of mixed ages. This can be scaled up (see above).
  • People will listen to each other, browse, and try out in groups of friends/family.
  • The installation is just large enough that multiple fingers can touch the controls and people use the phone receivers to hear and share their sounds.
  • The users’ work creates a sonic tapestry and backdrop that creates an intriguing and beguiling environment for listeners and passers-by. They will stop and listen, or sit down and listen for anywhere from 10 seconds to 15 minutes. Some users spend 10-30 seconds on the installation, others (or their groups) will dwell for longer periods – 10 minutes or so. Sharing of the installation seems to happen naturally without Harold.
  • We can create simple responsive LED projections around the work to attract visual attention in busy or large spaces.

Example 1: We can add vibrating, responsive mirrors (without sound) for 5 to 90 more people and design them beautifully like a large salon (technologies fully tested/refined).

Example 2: We can create playground of vibration responsive sculptural shapes that carry voices through space as touch/sound/light, including across larger landscapes (technologies fully tested/refined).

Example 3: We can work with stylist partners to develop live image/make-up/hair styling alongside the artwork.

Could artists write for it or use it for concerts? Yes.

  • Curious Replicas includes two induction loops; tactile interfaces (for tactile tours), and is almost entirely touchable.
  • It is designed to be wheelchair accessible with minimal assistance.
  • We are working on an adaptation for PMLD children/young adults.
Acoustics are adjustable and our technician will tune them to your needs. The work can be near ticket desks or other areas and still be audible/not irritating for your staff. Appropriate spaces might be:

• Lobbies.
• Galleries.
• Public spaces.
• Walk-through spaces.
• In a dressing room, or anteroom, at a special event.
• In tents at festivals (minimum temperature 10 degrees C and sun cover required for outdoor festival environment).

We have unusual experience making our work endure the (sometimes brutal) attentions of the public. Bonenfant’s piece ‘The Voice Trunk‘ has stood up to nearly 240000 visits by school-aged children. You can trust that our work will be robust.
Here’s a summary of what we provide for you. Look below for samples and examples.

Media assets

  • Five 5-second teaser videos (Twitter/Facebook)
  • 2 minute video trailer
  • 2.5 minute ‘explanatory’ trailer (with interview excerpts)
  • Library of high-quality still Sound files from the work (for radio interviews or your web site)
  • Wide range of promo copy/interview texts
  • A beautiful website, optimized for mobile devices


  • We will have a PR agent on tour promotion
  • We will provide in house social media buildup
  • We have an existing relationship with an excellent and reliable social media agency who drove thousands of users to other work, and who can develop a bespoke package for and with you
We provide you with a range of hi-res stills to use for promotion and tweets. A selection is below. Contact us for full-size files.


Harold Offeh




In addition to the above trailers we provide you with raw files for five video teasers to build excitement around the work. We also provide you with an extensive library of short and longer sound files of user compositions for radio interviews and to feature on your site or in your tweets.

Sample ‘coming soon’ teasers are embedded below.

You shape your voice. You style it every day. Artwork Curious Replicas invites you to play with that style. Change your voice’s body. Have it trimmed by a barber or refine its shape in a salon. Add shine, extensions, bounce or curl. Frizz it. Give it a dose of drama. And hear it come back to you – as privately, or as publicly – as you like, thanks to our personal ear-sets and our volume control. Feel its texture shimmer up from our seat, and touch its timbre in the palm of your hand. See its sound incandesce in radiant bronze. Immerse yourself in some new vocal selves: be your own Curious Replicas.

Winking an eye to the long history of voice manipulation across artforms, and setting up a space where anyone is given the authority of the microphone, Curious Replicas brings you inside the very material of your body’s sound. You sculpt that sound with your own hands… and feel, hear and see it come back to you.

Joining us is renowned hairographer and artist Harold Offeh, who personally curates wigs and styles for you, with his calm and welcoming, yet playful and mischievous manner. Hair and voice dance together in his delicate hands. Touch your new vocal style – and see it, too!
Children run straight for the microphone, and break the ice for families and adults. Everyone should be heard; everyone should get to shape their sound, even if they ‘can’t sing’. Curious Replicas resonates with, and celebrates, you.
Take a break from managing your social media persona. Invent and play with your vocal one! Feel a real body of sound shimmer forth from you. Make art. Explore your voice’s unknown territories. Your voice is real. Touch it.
Your voice will never be curlier and shinier. Your sound will never have another opportunity to frizz and flow like this. Your hair will never be more dramatic. Invent your new voice… inside out, upside down and all around. Look into our strange mirror, and dwell in your own vocal power. Come and celebrate the invention of fun, frolicksome, or fierce new selves in sound.
Sound synthesis and voice manipulation are nothing new. But the users of these technologies are usually ‘professionals’: composers, digital artists, singers, rappers, or media personalities. For most people, the microphone is a tool given only to a kind of vocal elite. The microphone is not theirs. Curious Replicas gives these general audiences agency: agency to be heard, and agency to invent. Its intuitive controls allow them to create sophisticated soundscapes that extend their own bodies into the sound. And their identities are shaped in their own hands.
Curious Replicas playfully exploits pop culture design language and combines it with a sophisticated, yet camp, sonic tapestry. Part retro-60s spaceship cockpit, part hairstyling station, part command console, with a touch of the phone booth, it creates a wooden-toned, textured-bronze nest in which the user is cocooned. With tactile surprises interacting with hidden digital technology, it winks at the long heritage of voice manipulation in art. It stages the spectator while leaving her agency. The disembodied human voice becomes tactile material.
Vibration engineering. Speech. The physics of sound. Touch and the tactile. The anatomy of the voice. Receptor cells on the palm of your hand. Audience-driven art. All these collide and bear fruit, in this unprecedented collaboration between vocal, digital and scientific artists
Use hashtag #CuriousReplicas
Reference @tractandtouch

1 – Visit our voice-styling salon. Get a new vocal do. No appointment necessary. #CuriousReplicas by @tractandtouch

2 – Voice. Bronze. Shimmer. Style. Hear yourself anew. Invent your #CuriousReplicas

3 – Bring your sound – bring your touch – bring your hair – alive! Invent your #CuriousReplicas

4 – Like your voice? Enhance it. Don’t like your voice? Make a new one! Invent your #CuriousReplicas

5 – *You* get the microphone. Invent your #CuriousReplicas

Curious Replicas is constructed from materials that are largely fire rated 0-1. Electronics are either PAT tested or ultra low voltage. A full generic risk assessment is available on your request.

The installation is constructed from extremely durable, tactile  material that nonetheless has a beautiful finish. It is weighted so that it is almost impossible to knock over (it would take tools/a vehicle).

The innards of Curious Replicas are sealed; theft of its digital content would take careful planning.

  • Curious Replicas plugs in to one socket. Standard 220V power needs to be safely run to the installation.
  • Its footprint is about 4 square metres including ‘space around it’. It needs seat clearance, but can be placed against a wall if required.
  • Ideally it is sited so that it feels intimate for the user.
  • Depending on location, it could be advantageous to light to work. We can provide low voltage, coloured, cold LEDs and match them to your environment. They can help attract users in larger or emptier spaces.
  • The artwork is temperature and humidity sensitive – it shouldn’t operate under 10 degrees Celsius, and must be protected from rain or direct outdoor sun.
  • We may need to store bubble wrap, packaging materials and maintenance kits with you. These are not voluminous. Where Harold Offeh is included, wig storage and a dressing room area are required.
  • Acoustics and sound levels are carefully attuned to your environment.
Curious Replicas is, of course, fully insured for liability and professional indemnity. In most cases, you will need to write the object in to your theft/fire insurance during its time with you. This is usually simple and not very costly, but requires liaison with your broker/underwriter.

There can be exceptions to the preceding in festival environments. Contact us.

Depending on exactly where it is, you may need to guarantee a certain number of walk-bys per day to an insurer, or that the object is in view of a ticketing counter or an invigilator. We can work with you to provide invigilation.


  • At this point, we provide indications of costings that are *unsubsidized*, and that don’t include company overheads. We intend to apply to Grants for the Arts to underwrite touring and thus costings could well come down.
  • Note that we may be able to  reduce our costs to you if you are able to provide on-site non-specialist A/V support to the work.
  • Note that the work is most expensive to get-in and tune up, and then get out again. It can be advantageous to run it for longer periods in frequented locations

Unsubsidized basics:

  • Get-in delivery: £260.00+gasoline (accommodation can be required depending on distance)
  • Technician set-up and monitoring £500.00 flat fee throughout length of gig.
  • Harold Offeh per half day GBP £220.00 + expenses
  • On-call local technician GBP£250.00-£350.00/week depending on region.
  • Get-out £260.00 + gasoline

Optional: enhanced PR with reliable  agency FB/Twitter promo campaign: flat fee £700.00 + enhancements

Sample unsubsidized packages:

  • 3 weeks in a public lobby space without live performer, within 180 miles of Southampton: GBP£2170.00
  • 3 weeks in a public lobby space with 3 events by Harold Offeh, within 180 miles of Southampton GBP£2910.00, we provide all on-site digital monitoring
  • Festival weekend, 3 long full days, without Harold: GBP £1820.00, we provide all live, on-site digital monitoring
  • Festival weekend, 3 long full days, Harold present three half day sessions: GBP £2380.oo, we provide all on-site digital monitoring
  • 3 months lobby space, launch event and then monthly events by Harold Offeh, within 250 miles of Southampton, we provide all on-site digital monitoring £5300. Substantial discount if you provide A/V technician.

We can build you a permanent ‘copy’ or adaptation of the Curious Replicas installation for you to own from GBP £12000, and smaller versions from GBP£3000.

Yvon Bonenfant’s practice has grown from working on the fringes of interdisciplinary and experimental music and dance to leading large scale arts projects derived from the voice. From 2013-15, he imagined and delivered the Your Vivacious Voice series of artworks and education packages for children aged 6-11 and their adults. This included national touring performance UluzuzulaliaVoice Bubbles for iPad, and the installation The Voice Trunk , which showed at the Natural History Museum before being installed in Winchester Science Centre as its first work of child- focused art. These projects, supported by the Wellcome Trust Large Arts Awards, Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts, and the University of Winchester, have reached more than 300 000 audience to date, and signalled a turn toward an interest in audience voicing and the tactile register.You can browse other selected artworks since 2007 at He is also Professor of Artistic Process, Voice and Extended Practices at the University of Winchester and publishes about his work widely.
Kingsley Ash is a sound, digital and audiovisual artist with a background in MAX, acoustics and digital coding. His work has been shown widely in Europe and the UK, and he collaborates regularly to help other artists realise their concepts. He was the main computer artist on all the projects, understands audience interaction dynamics intimately, and has worked closely with Peter Glynne-Jones to develop our voice-responsive coding across all digital projects.
Peter Glynne-Jones is an Associate Professor and New Frontiers Fellow of the University of Southampton’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research and was recently awarded a five-year EPSRC early career fellowship. He is currently researching the manipulation of microscopic particles using the forces generated by ultrasonic waves, including bioengineering of lung and other tissues, which he levitates using sound. In conjunction with us, he has been co-developing the relationship between coding, transducer action, and sensation of vibration in objects, as well as the textural effects of vibrational waves; he is experimenting with silicone-derived robotics, ultrasound palm haptic arrays and other technologies across all our projects. Peter’s research profile
James Shearer is the director of the artwork fabrication studio ‘Other Fabrications’. He collaborates with artists and studios to realise sophisticated and complex works. He has been co-designing, developing and managing the production and installation of key national and international artworks since 2003. Examples include: Semi Detached, Tate Britain, 2004; Singing Ringing Tree, Burnley, 2007; UK Pavilion Walkways, Shanghai Expo, 2010. James’s own company, Other Fabrications, has been running since 2011 and has successfully completed high profile projects in venues such as London’s V&A and Science Museums, The Tower of London, and Perth Concert Hall. James’ collaboration as a design thinker feeds into all of our current projects.
Harold Offeh was born in Accra, Ghana in 1977 and grew up in London. He is interested in the space created by the inhabiting or embodying of history. His work encompasses performance, social practice, video and photography, often using humour as a means to confront the viewer with aspects of contemporary culture and history. Recently Offeh has approached the themes of service and Afro hair culture through collective live engagements with other artists, performers and community participation. He has shown widely both in the UK and abroad, including at Tate Modern, The Studio Museum Harlem, Aspex, and elsewhere. With Tract and Touch, Harold developed the performance interventions that will take place alongside Curious

Louisa Davies, performance, public spaces

email Louisa Davies

Davies is an independent creative producer, working on a range of projects encompassing music, spoken word, film, theatre and outdoor arts, alongside a part time role as Events Manager for the Royal Shakespeare Company. She is producing a number of high profile outdoor projects for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, alongside managing a busy events programme. For ten years, she was the Performing Arts Producer at mac Birmingham, where she led on the development and curation of mac’s performing arts programmes. This included two years when mac was closed for a £15m building project during which Louisa had a more strategic role developing mac’s future artistic strategy, and producing cross art-form projects. She is working with us on Curious Replicas.


Julia Haferkorn,  music, visual art, innovative forms

email Julia Haferkorn

Haferkorn is Director at Third Ear Ltd and has worked in the contemporary music and cross-artform sector for the past 20 years. She has produced a range of national and international new music tours, concerts and events and is experienced in setting up multi-partner and cross-artform projects, both within the arts sector and across the arts and academic sectors. For five years, she was Project Manager for Sound Circuit, an Arts Council funded consortium of promoters interested in new music and art projects. She is working with us on our Curious Replicas and Touching Your Voice Inside Out projects.