Research Output

Gastric Tones [audio installation]

  Audio recording and acrylic speakers.

In his previous sound works, Paul Holmes has captured and transformed recordings of the human voice; this is the first piece that makes use of involuntary human noises. To create this installation, the artist recorded the sounds made by his digestive tract before, during, and after the consumption of a meal.

By manipulating the pitch, volume and speed of the audio, the work reveals characteristics that are normally latent in these noises. Small-scale secretions and their accompanying peristaltic movements are brought into exaggerated relief in this soundscape. Resembling the calls of animals, the rumbles and howls of extreme weather, or the hiss and crash of the sea, these tones celebrate the power of Nature within us all.

Sculptural in appearance, the transparent sound box is mounted on a plinth and lit, becoming the visual focus of a work that cannot really be seen at all. The invisibility of the piece is an ironic commentary on the enigma of its meaning. When the artist’s stomach speaks, what is it saying? It protests quietly when it is hungry, and complains volubly at the hard work of consumption. Much like the human spirit, and echoing Humanity’s treatment of the Earth and its limited resources, our stomachs’ moods and expressions swing between extremes of abundance and scarcity and struggle to achieve balance.

Gastric Tones was first shown at the Cumulus conference "Letters to the Future" at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore in November 2017; and with the Calcutta Media Collective at Gem Cinema, Kolkata as part of "Response Installations & New Media", in February 2018.

Duration: 21 minutes 18 seconds. Looped.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    22 November 2017

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    N1 Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    770 Photography, photographs & computer art

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Holmes, P. (2017). Gastric Tones [audio installation]. [Gallery exhibition]



stomach, sound art, installation

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