is a communication primitive in most human languages. Whistling
is a kind of time travel to a less articulated state. Inhabitants
of Gomera, one of the Canary Islands, use a whistling language,
el Silbo Gomera, to communicate from hilltop to hilltop. Their powerful
whistles travel farther than the spoken word. We share whistling
and song with many animals. Mammals and birds carry the means for
whistling in them. Just as we carry physical remnants of our bodily
evolution in us, we carry the capacity for whistling in us.
U.W.M is an investigation into the vexing problem of human-machine
interface design. Whistling is much closer to the phoneme-less signal
primitives compatible with digital machinery than the messy domain
of spoken language. As opposed to pushing machines into engaging
humans in spoken language, U.W.M. suggests we meet on a middle ground.
Whistling occurs across all languages and cultures. All people have the capacity to whistle,
though many do not whistle well. Lacking phonemes, whistling is a pre-language language,
a candidate for a limited Esperanto of human-machine communication.
Beyond alternatives to computer interfaces,
U.W.M. also offers the potential for a new approach to human-animal communication.
U.W.M. is capable of imitating certain bird whistles as easily as it can synthesize human whistles.
Could this lead to new forms of human-machine-animal exchanges?
|Here are two video clips [.mp4] of an early version of U.W.M:
Here is a clip[.mp4]of U.W.M.in LA: