If browsing the Voice Gems Meta-Museum will impart any wisdom, it’s that no two voices are truly the same. The virtual gallery, which recently opened in the metaverse inside a Brutalist space outfitted with massive screens displaying the gems, showcases stunningly vivid digital gemstones generated from human voices.
It’s the brainchild of the beatboxers, vocalists, and artists Harry Yeff (who goes by Reeps One) and Trung Bao, who teamed up to develop a generative system that creates the digital sculptures by translating voice data into more than 200,000 individual particles with distinct colors and forms that come together to resemble a gemstone. Think of it as a fingerprint for your voice. Major art-world figures like Ai Weiwei and Felipe Pantone have lent their vocals to the project, which will soon expand to include gems generated by AI voices, dying languages, and critically endangered species. The project is the result of more than a decade of research by Yeff with scientists at Harvard University and University College London to study all the components of the human voice.
Yeff and Bao are minting a selection of Voice Gems as NFTs available for purchase on OpenSea. And though the Voice Gems Meta-Museum exists solely in the virtual world for now, Voice Gems can also exist as 3D printed and cast sculptures. Besides featuring them during Art Basel Miami Beach 2021 at Galerie Nagel Draxler’s booth in collaboration with Kenny Schachter, Yeff created a voice-generated sculpture using sounds made by two lovers. The couple used the gemstones as a marriage proposal gift in lieu of the traditional diamond as a protest against an industry associated with environmental depletion and human conflict. “Traditions like the engagement ring are open to innovation,” says Yeff. “No system is perfect, but if we continue to mine the earth’s physical resources, I’d like to simply introduce innovative and provocative alternatives using technology.”