Lost in Computation (2017)
Comissioner / Client
FABRICA, Treviso (it)
Raspberry Pi x 2, Chromium, Node.js, Socket.io, Cleverbot, Google Translate

A study of language automatization and how the multiple hidden layers of computation distorts and fragments our communication in today’s digital landscape.

Inspired by the nature of the artist’s own conversations with Italians during his residency at Italian research centre FABRICA; the work embodies an endlessly auto-generated realtime multilingual conversation between a Swedish and an Italian-speaking chatbot translated through Google Translate.

Conversation is initiated by the Swedish-speaking computer sending “Hej.” (“Hello.”) to the Italian-speaking computer via Google Translate for translation to Italian (and English for the sake of explanation) which then becomes the input for the Italian-speaking chatbot. The program then keeps looping two computers feeding each-other’s responses until termination.

The conversation highlights the level of sophistication today’s language modelling algorithms has achieved, but also the absurdity of machine cognition, as the program is not able to appreciate the meaning of what is being talked about.

Originally created for FABRICA Research Centre’s celebration of UN International Mother Language Day 2017.

Ung Svensk Form (Young Swedish Design Award) – ArkDes, Stockholm (se), 2019 Arte Laguna Prize (12th) – Arsenale of Venice, Venice (it), 2018 Open Codes. Digital Culture Techniques – Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai (in), 2018 Open Codes. Living in Digital Worlds – ZKM | Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (de), 2017 I See Colors Everywhere – Triennale, Milan (it), 2017 Made in Space – SPACE10, Copenhagen (dk), 2017