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Morfill, S., Cavic, A., Michailidis, T., 2019.

I am not listening

Output Type:Conference paper
Presented at:Electronic Literature Organisation Cnference and Media Arts Festival : Peripheries
Venue:University College Cork
Dates:15/7/2019 - 17/7/2019

The reading of any text, or the translation from one language (or mode) to another relies on a process of interpretation. Following Derrida, in his theory of translation, Lawrence Venuti writes that 'Because meaning is an effect of relations and differences among signifiers along a potentially endless chain (polysemous, intertextual, subject to infinite linkages), it is always differential and deferred, never present as an original unity' (Venuti, 2008: 13). These plural and contingent relations that have the capacity to produce different meanings were played out in Ana Cavic and Sally Morfill's animation for ELO 2016 (Rules that order the reading of clouds). Lines, as signifiers, developed through gestures of drawing, reformed, creating different relations, and producing new meanings that shifted between the contexts of image and text.
In the process of making Rules (2016), the active space where interpretation occurred and meaning was produced lay between the frames of animated movement. This between space, or gap - prone to perceptual failings - is at the core of a new collaboration between Cavic, Morfill and Tychonas Michailidis.
I am not listening is an interactive installation where the interpretative space between the aural, visual and haptic is exposed and activated. The audience is witness to what Roman Jakobson describes as 'intersemiotic transposition' (1959), as they choose to feel and/or see what they hear as spoken word transformed into alternative modes. Where Jakobson stated that 'poetry is untranslatable,' a creative transposition provides the viewer with sensory feedback through a series of vibrations that are in fact a translation of the text. A visual system of signs also interprets the spoken word and takes the form of screen-based animation. Thus sound, image and visuals can be experienced synchronously or independently, offering the possibility of different perceptual understandings and meanings that are generated from the same source.
In this work, literature is mediated by technology. The inclusion of alternative sensory formats to support the listening/reading of a text both augments the experience of the audience, and underlines its incompleteness.