Benjamin Lindquist is a historian of sound and technology and a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His dissertation charts the history of synthetic speech and its intersections with disciplinary knowledge, technology, and cultural practices. After spending 2019 collaborating with MPIWG’s research group “Epistemes of Modern Acoustics,” supported by a DAAD research grant, he will join the University of Regensburg as a visiting scholar for the 2020-2021 academic year.
At Regensburg, Benjamin will continue his research and writing on the body's role in the genealogy of text-to-speech. Synthetic speech does not fit into the well-rehearsed narrative of how information became disembodied; rather, it is a story of how information emerged from the body. After learning to fully explicate humans’ unconscious ability to produce speech, researchers gradually taught machines to replicate this process. By foregrounding physicality, Benjamin’s research at Regensburg will pursue how sequences of precise, computer-implementable commands were rooted in the stuff of human materiality.
Before joining Princeton, Benjamin worked as an artist. He graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (BFA) and Yale University School of Art (MFA). After earning his MFA, he taught studio art and art theory at Butler University and Purdue. Benjamin’s art and scholarship have been funded by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Creative Time, The Al Held Foundation, and a Fulbright Fellowship in Zürich, Switzerland. His publications have appeared in Western Historical Quarterly, Winterthur Portfolio, and Material Religion.