Google translationship is a vernacular construct—spreading online— defining when two individuals are in a relationship with each other but speak different languages and require Google translator to communicate.
Translationships is a series of interconnected works, consisting in multiple versions of a record to its final disintegration, an essay,
two three subsequent videos—one to go with the crippled musical score, and another to be the visual commentary to the essay + proof of removal of a previous version I had uploaded to YouTube—and documentation material of the process.
Possibly a declaration of abandon through achieving awareness in complexity, a hike over towards a feeling of optimistic nihilism.
Translationships ♨, 2012 — HD video with text to speech from Google translate, 16' 52", 66 .sbv files (subtitles with timecode, all languages available in Google translate)
All things are so ridiculously interconnected.
The work on what should have been my first full-length record—actually a failure, since the record never hit the shelves—as ‘Death In Plains’, had slowly become a justification for further speculation about my own expectations in circumstances of personal crisis, creative work and writer’s block, immaterial labor and the dealing with reality.
As I was gathering material for the record, collecting loops, writing synthesizer parts and arrangements, recording vocal clips, I can remember a steady position: that constant feeling of being desperately steps behind my own individual approval. Couldn’t cope with my lurking performance anxiety, no score would match the unreasonable quality standards I was forcing myself to hold by.
Month after month, of late night computer production in my room-studio, I kept changing my mind endlessly, passing through every state of moodiness, jumping from blog to blog, download after download and listen by listen, carrying with me the feeling—like a ghost, that what I was doing was ‘not enough’. It could have never be enough.
Version after version my record was shifting a number of shapes, each one could have been the one, every different version the right conclusive take. I couldn’t make my mind though. I could not understand my own language anymore. I kept on struggling for originality, to render into that music something which could be unique, intimate, belonging to my very own approach over production.
Ironically, the more I tried the more I pushed myself further away from what I wanted to achieve. In a desperate attempt to change my point of view over the material I put myself in a different position: the one of somebody remixing somebody else’s work, remixing versions of the record as sampled material. I recorded vocals on top of this stratum stealing the lyrics from classic pop and dance songs, in the hope of adding more and more strata to my music, which in my opinion was still missing ‘depth’.
Meanwhile I began writing an essay in free form—a separate work at the beginning—while gathering various footage of myself performing over my music, intended to be a visual complement to the record.
All this processes took time, too much time, and the record label supposed to put out the record (DiscError—an independent label based in London, which I have previously worked with) eventually refused the work for late arrival and likely as insubstantial.
The final incarnation of this record is its very disintegration, arbitrarily stretched to 74 minutes (the standard running capacity of a cd-r) and played in reverse, a shadow to soundtrack edited video footage and performance material which was originally meant to serve as visual companion for the music.
Translationships ≈, 2012 — HD video with sound, 73' 55"
Translationships ω, 2012 — Archival audio file, .email@example.comHz 16-bit PCM, 782.174.352 bytes
The above text, existing both in printed form and as digital file, is a collection of speculative thoughts about expectations and failure, physical reality and immaterial world, identity and memory, perception of time, fake and original, as source, copy and interpretation.
Translationships, 2012 — 48 pages, archival PDF file + black and white print and ballpoint pen on Fedrigoni woodstock paper, edition of 25 numbered copies, 21 x 29,7 cm
It is about and part of a series of works making sense each one as such independently, while at the same time a continuum, in which the links amongst each other establish a profound shift of meaning. I tried to play in the fields of elements recognition and canonical genre categorization, pushing slightly what-something-is into what-is-not-anymore, and vice versa; remixing structures and features with open attitude, kindred to what Lev Manovich could specify as ‘deep remixability’.
Starting from the work on a musical composition (a record, seen as number of songs to follow one another), my survey currently consists in a book, a video installation, a website, a live performance, documentation material—in printed form and as a torrent file—a different musical composition (a record, seen as a flow of harmonic association and meaning.)
The work on a record, personal expectations about it, and subsequent failure of the project, became an excuse for speculations about dense hybridization between different fields of experience in practical and immaterial work.
I was working on raw material for a record, writing original music as ‘Death In Plains’, a musical and performative adventure I started in 2009, when I first began to wonder about this kind of deep hybridization, listening to ‘Kills’, a mixtape by Swedish duo ‘jj’ reworking a number of well-known songs by hip-hop and R&B artists, distributed over the internet—as a free download—with the likes of an official release.
After completing a first cycle of work to the record, producing music, writing lyrics, getting it all done, I still felt my music was missing something, compared to what I wanted to achieve. It was missing depth, missing strata.
At this point my choice has been to revise my own material with the exact approach I had if I was reworking somebody else’s score: sampling my own finished song and adding new sonic layers, switching elements and recombining them in a different taste. The result of a process became a new source, to be handled as I would do with found footage, or like I would have done if I was asked to do a remix for somebody else.
I realized then I could apply the same attitude concerning the vocals, making use of a reverse and specular procedure: I borrowed words out of hits from the last decades of popular music and sung them over my reworked songs, on top of these “new” instrumentals in the making. Taking the words right out of the mouth of King Crimson, Nine Inch Nails, The Smiths, The Cure, Modest Mouse, Haddaway, Nirvana, Radiohead, Blur, Alphaville, DJ Khaled, Drake, The Beatles and Alice DeeJay, and translating them into this new unexpected environment, meant to instill multiple identities to my work, providing it with the stratification it was missing.
Translationships α and β, 2012 — 15 archival audio files, .firstname.lastname@example.orgHz 16-bit PCM
As a final desperate operation, feeling the work now had too much recognizable stratifications on top of each one, I arbitrarily stretched the whole record to a duration of 74 minutes, the most common maximum playing time of a typical audio cd, which still probably portraits the common assumption of “record” as physical object, and play it in reverse.
This different record is both a sound work in controlled randomness I composed and curated, and at the same time something else: the assemblage of multiple layers of meaning and strata of process in translation of something into something else.
Words and music which resonated in a studio, for a first time in the act of recording, and for years then in collective imagination, resonate here differently at the end of a process, in a shifted environment, from another point of view, the one of the cloud dweller free to enjoy the major archive ever: the Internet.
Video work, existing as visuals for live performance, HD video to be downloaded or watched online, and as installation, arises from a parallel perspective.
Found footage from stock material available on the Internet, along with hours of footage I shot for the production of a failed short film I wanted to direct, have been mixed and mashed together with static images of the river Moldova I took on a trip to Prague last year, animated through digital effects, as well as with the documentation of a series of mockery on spatial studies I performed over my newly acquired different record and the re-shooting of all this footage playing into different devices, laptops and an iPhone.
Digital waste as digital ‘merz’, its reuse as workable material, a deliberate abuse of digital effects over digital media, which was intended to be trashed as failure, redistributing sense.
Digitally recreated movement animates water captured in digital images, overlapping with the real water of a swimming pool. Real and algorithm generated smoke contribute to form a joint image, and performance, re-enactment and documentation of a performance are set on the same plane, the same plane of re-shot footage running along original on a first channel of the installation; on the other channel words from this thoughts are being played, translated to voice using a hack of text-to-speech software inside Google Translate, over coherent found images from stock material.
Accuracy is now inclusion.
Translationships, 2012 — 12 numbered inkjet prints and graphite on A4 paper, subtitles with timecode translated in all available languages in Google translate, printed multiple (66) times on top of each other
Above imgs — studio installation views, March - June 2012. Last revised November 2012