Unedited transcript of speech recognition lecture performance
I will now write for approximately 25 minutes, so please make sure your seated comfortably. I have not prepared a lecture in advance. Instead, I will write it now. More specifically, I will write a dialogue for my fictitious co-researcher DAR (abbreviation for digital artistic researcher) and my equally fictitious researcher I. This dialogue will be in English because writing it in the Finnish language would have shifted the focus to technological dysfunction too much. The reason for this choice is that I have in my research tried to demonstrate my claims through the means of actually doing the research. Also the different parts of the research, artistic and written parts, have leaked into each other. This is a continuation of that leakage. This is my research leaking into this public examination.
Place: auditorium one
Time: April 6, 2018
DAR: let’s start with the body. What is the body doing?
I: it’s standing in front of a number of people.
DAR: no, I meant what is happening to the body? Perspiration?
DAR: hands cold?
DAR: well, that doesn’t sound too bad. To start with.
I: no, actually I feel pretty good.
DAR: well, then let’s go on. Let’s go on to the questions, what would a research be without the questions, this is what we are told to start with, the questions, so what were the questions actually?
I: yes, the questions. Let’s go to the questions. It started with machine translation, it started with something of a freak accident, having Google translate translate my play, that was the first turn. Then the question became about the task of machine translation and performance, what could he do, and how could it be used.
DAR: these were the initial questions, but what happened, these were not the questions that we ended up writing about.
I: no, it changed, as everything does. It became broader, new technologies came into the process and the questions also changed, it became more about writing and reading it became about writing and reading with what we had understood to be algorithms. We started out with no understanding of algorithms, and we ended up focusing very much on them.
DAR: can you specify what you mean? What is the relationship to algorithms and why did they force themselves into the process.
I: I feel as if I’m running out of breath, my mouth is drying out, I’m looking forward to having water, after this is over. But yes it became more about writing and reading in and through algorithmic processes and later it became about writing alongside, with, and importantly against algorithmic processes. It became about resistance and searching for ways of resisting and working with those algorithms that continue to work on each word that we feed into our text entry fields. It became about how digital media shape and extend and alter what it is that we write and speak, even what we think.
DAR: what next? Trying to introduce the research to people that may or may not know something about it. So what next? What to tell them actually? If there’s one thing that you would like them to walk out of this room with this afternoon what would it be?
I: new stage, extension,silence. So the outcomes, if we were now to shift to the outcomes, what would any talk about research fee without the outcomes, outcomes or what interest people, so ultimately what we came to claim was that a new stage could be set up in collaboration with digital media, for writing, for thinking, for concentration, and this happened through the extension that digital media allow in the processes that we developed in and through the research. Processes that we’ve called live writing and writing through contemporary self translation.
DAR: that was quite a mouthful. Could you specify what you’re talking about?
I: live writing is what the audiences saw in the artistic parts of the research, small groups of writer performers writing improvised dramatic scenes using machine translation and speech recognition. Scenes loosely based on my play. These scenes form the textual chain of rewrites and translations that could potentially continue endlessly, if someone had the time time to actually follow it. Writing through contemporary self translation, on the other hand, is a form of discursive writing that we used to write the written part of this research, and it involves using the machines translations as reference points for the text being written, incorporating material introduced by the machine translator or just simply comparing what it has to offer through its automated suggestions. And through this process of comparison, I claim that a new spaces opened, my claim is that what happens is thinking and not only thinking but research, I make this claim from the observation I made while writing the work that in order to really understand what I was getting at I had to translate I had to translate a lot and not only until I had sufficiently translated did I really start to understand what happened over the years, during the decade that I had done this work.
DAR: but still, the one thing that you would wish for them to carry along when walking outside, leaving the space?
I: maybe an understanding that this was also project about authorship and distance, distance achieved from authorship, a desire to leave behind certain models of authorship that had proven unsustainable and that could only be altered through translation performed by a large group of performers from theater and dance and other areas of performance, who translated for us and with us and helped us move from one and become an uncomfortable authorship or way of writing, and uncomfortable exploitative approach to making something.
DAR: 25 minutes, are they soon up? It feels longer now. Are you sure you do not miss adjust the egg timer?
I: we can of course finish here. This discussion goes on.