Perfect Imperfect was an intermedia installation project made in collaboration with UK artist Chloë Steele ca. 2002-2006, investigating the history and architecture of Elveden Hall in Suffolk UK. Outcomes of the project included a large-scale event on site at Elveden, and several installation exhibitions in UK and Canadian galleries.
This audio track uses the only known recording of the voice of Queen Victoria to activate all the different spaces of Elveden - its dozens of bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, pantries, cloakrooms, tiny cupboards and massive halls. This was done by documenting each of these acoustic spaces with impulse response recordings (done with a starter's pistol), that could be re-processed later on with other recordings to put them virtually into Elveden. The Queen's voice was edited into phonemes which are used as noise bursts to activate the virtual acoustic spaces. Each successive fragment is heard in a different location, gradually revealing aspects of Elveden's sonic identity. Timestretched fragments of the Queen's voice are also heard coming and going through different rooms. Queen Victoria's connection with Elveden is through one of the Hall's owners over the years, the Maharajah Duleep Singh, last Maharajah of the Punjab, who was a good friend of Victoria and maintained a correspondence with her.
Thanks to the British Library for providing a dub of the original fragmentary cylinder recording of the Queen. They were careful to note that it cannot be 100% verified that it is truly her voice.