Pataka is set within the immersive visualisation of the algorithm’s dataset and its prediction, as its origin story. The artwork is the result of an analytical approach to work – using the output of an algorithm to determine what the artist should do next.


According to the algorithm’s parameters, underlined with high confidence level and high value as being crucial for the content of her next artwork, the artist started researching how the state of your mental health leaves a fingerprint on speech production and your voice, and consequently met and worked with Dr Jude Dineley, a postdoctoral researcher at the Chair of Embedded Intelligence for Health Care and Wellbeing, at the University of Augsburg in Germany, and Dr Nick Cummins, from the Department of Biostatistics & Health Informatics, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, in preparing a piece about machines listening to our voices, with a particular focus on depression. Pataka uses video and dynamic data visualisations to inform the viewer about the effects of depression in speech and how artificial intelligence can be used to detect them.

The three-channel video shows four African grey parrots that were taught the trisyllabic sequence Pa-ta-ka, which is commonly used to test diadochokinetic rate (DDK). DDK is an assessment tool, used by speech-language pathologists, that measures how quickly an individual can accurately produce a series of rapid, alternating sounds. The tool emphasizes changes related to a lack of muscle control in speech affected by depression.


The visitor is able to experience the cacophony of the parrots’ sounds and variances in their speech, as they seemingly interact with and play off each other. Parrots are known for imitating the voice of the persons teaching them to speak, thus Jahić decided to use the African grey parrots as proxies. One can learn more regarding the particular vocal exercise, vocal biomarkers, machine learning, speech patterns and mental health, as well as the differences between academic and commercial research, by scrolling through data animations presented on two accompanying displays, which are installed with custom-made tripods in the exhibition space. Read more


Technical support: Andrej Primožič
Research insight and assistance: Nicholas Cummins, Jude Dineley
Data visualisation design: Peter Primožič
Assistance in filming and picture post-production: Toni Mlakar
Audio post-production: Julij Zornik

Production: Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2020

Co-production: Drugo more, Rijeka


Photos: Domen Pal / Aksioma

Year of production: 2020