This project proposes a new way to represent spoken words on the page—not in black text, but in patterns of color. The project’s title is the length in minutes and seconds of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I created a system of representing vocal intonation by matching six colors of the spectrum—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple—to respective volumes and pitch. (Red was high and loud; orange was less high and loud; and so on, until purple was silent.) The resulting bar graphs appear in a book. There are two sets of graphs: one representing Martin Luther King Jr.’s oratory, and one representing my reading of the same text. Each spread illustrates 30 seconds of speech, and on each spread, we see the difference between King’s lively spoken voice, with it’s greater variety of color, and my reading voice, which appears relatively static.
16’ 28” gives us a supplementary way to interpret and understand texts by adding another sensory experience. Just as children learn about music by playing the xylophone, which associates sound with color, they might better learn languages by associating sound with color. This system might also help hearing-impaired people imagine intonation.