A tiny sketch: “Translation”

This short post describes some idea fragments that feel as if they might be developed from a simple sketch here into something more interesting, related to notions of “translation” in different forms.

The work started from a group workshop at university (#weareoca) that asked us to work with “translation” in a couple of ways: firstly by translating a text from an unknown language into English, and then by receiving another group’s translation as the basis for making art work.

The translation our group received was only somewhat coherent, but the aspect that attracted me was its description of colours on a shadowy snowy night. My first response was a drawing in my sketchbook using coloured ink, and this turned out to be a starting point for layers of translation.

Ultimately I had wanted to feed the received text into a trained neural net to make new texts that I could then feed back in, hopefully drifting further and further into meaningless nonsense. That was to be one layer of translation, but it didn’t make it beyond being an idea: this is definitely something I’d like to explore at some point.

However, I did implement the next layer of my idea, with the text appearing over my drawing, word by word, over and over, in response to mouse clicks. The words of the text started white but each was assigned a random colour that it faded to, and tried to move towards, by looking at its environment, before settling and fading from view.

The result was not as complex as I’d hoped for, and this is a point that I’d like to develop at some point: having the words react both to the underlying image and to each other during their lifetimes. With enough interacting text elements, some interesting behaviour should emerge from the relatively simple rules in play.

Meanwhile, the sketch is on Youtube:

Published by Steve Meyfroidt

Artist, Scientist, Technologist

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