Sometimes there seems to be a pattern in the way things come to your notice.
On Creative Review a few days ago, I saw a music video by the artist Sivu that featured his head in an MRI scanner in St. Barts Hospital in London, a project that was completed with the assistance of a couple of doctors. It was quite mesmerizing – apparently it was done in real-time, with him repeatedly singing the song.
And then yesterday on the Wired podcast, I heard about some research at the University of Southern California that involved studying the way a beat-boxer from L.A pronounced the sounds he did by analysing the movements of his mouth in an MRI scanner (again). Rather interestingly, the research found that some of the sounds were akin to sounds made in niche languages like Chechen (Chechnya) and Nuxálk (Canada).
….the researchers were able to annotate all of the sounds made by their beatboxing subject using the International Phonetic Alphabet — the system designed to describe meaning-encoding speech sounds, like intonation. And even though the subject was only a speaker of English and Spanish, he was able to produce many sound effects typical of other languages.
It struck me how an MRI scanner is an object most people wouldn’t even think of in a non-medical context. And here we are with not one but two alterative uses that have nothing to do with medicine. Creativity has no bounds.