[Ineffable], estrangement and vision in the email.


Mary Flanagan , author of the book Rethinking Women + Cyberculture, co-director of Rapunsel, a project designed to teach programming to girls, and Andrew Gerngross, writer and creator of video games, have collaborated to study the use of language in what is definitely the main form of communication technology, ie the e-mail address. The installation [ineffable] , which is located in New York and was selected by an international jury to compete for the prize of the SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Conference at the Art Gallery in August 2004, consists of a projector, a laptop with a mixer and 4 speakers (or in place of headphones) and an application that can read, analyze and represent by means of sound and images, the words contained in a series of e-mails exchanged between two users in the daily correspondence. The work aims to find precise answers to some questions: During the regular exchanges of letters with our friends and colleagues, we show perhaps a 'voice' special, and that 'voice' is conditioned by the person to whom we turn and reasons why we are writing? Furthermore, since the e-mail is used both at work and personal matters, more or less intimate, it is possible to analyze the differences between the various types of language? And finally, what sound reveal our e-mail to those who read and what effect we do, to noise level, the e-mails that we receive from others? Written in Java, [ineffable] is an experimental system that connects various information (the time between a letter and the other, the length of the match), and discuss some fundamental aspects of language: the phonemic composition of words, phrases and sentences in reference to the self, interpersonal relationships, in the context of digital communications and the relationship of the individual with the computer and with the technology, considering the sound created in the head when reading and writing synesthetic experience. Undoubtedly, the search for Mary Flanagan and Andrew Gerngross finds its roots in structuralism and in the studies of De Saussure on the sign, represented by the pair of unbreakable signifier (the mental representation of the physical aspect of the sign) and signified (the concept or idea which the sign refers), as well as on langue (the system of signs shared by a certain community of speakers) and the words (the use of the system of signs). And again on the two aspects of words: 1. combinations with which the speaker uses the language code for expressing the thought, 2. the psycho-physical mechanism that allows to externalize such combinations. According to De Saussure in every act of words are involved three processes: a psychic process, ie an acoustic concept associated with an acoustic image, one physiological, so the brain sends an impulse to the organs of phonation for the image, a physical one, so the sound wave
s propagate from the mouth of the speaker to the listener. Since Flanagan and Gerngross, through their work, intend to investigate how technology permeates our lives, influencing and shaping our language, we can even see this reflected in the duality of the social character of the code langue understood as technological and individual character of sight words as our response to the technology itself. The work [ineffable] also recalls the studies of the Russian Formalists, dedicated research into the characteristics of poetic language as opposed to the common language or 'practical'. According to Viktor Shklovsky, thanks to Priem ostranenija, the process of alienation, poetic language makes the artistic image new, different from the common perception, and art, freeing us from'' automatism ', manages to surprise us, to' wash 'a world which does nothing but gather dust. therefore it is possible to see a connection of the intentions of artists Flanagan and Gerngross to evaluate the linguistic system of e-mail through a concrete, visible picture and sound, by inserting in the most extensive of the relationship between man and computer, raising, if possible, in the form of art: from the destructive action of the automation inherent in the common language and the use of new technologies, the work [ineffable], obtained by means of estrangement with the software, which increases the difficulty and duration of perception, aims to return to the language of e-mail 'meaning of life' and to transmit the idea as 'vision' and not as 'recognition'. In short, as claimed by Shklovsky "to resurrect our perception of life, to make sensible things, to make the stone a stone, there is what we call art. The aim of art is to give us a sense of the thing, a feeling that must be not only vision and sensation. "