Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Three text finalists

Over the spring break, I did a lot of research on different literature types from different cultures...again, but this time I expand beyond poem and words.

Previous quarter I attempted the three following text constructing approaches...

1. Created a meshed world poem by using different words from different languages.
2. Used the source text pronunciations to provoke an emotion while the content itself may not be as important to the non-native listeners.
3. Created 4 translation poems by combining source text, literal/google translation text, target/polished translation text in a lyrical order.

All these approaches have its own advantages and weaknesses in this translation art I'm attempting. It is extremely difficult to keep a perfect balance between native text source and target translation. I want to look for a text that has a strong meaning and also sound interesting that doesn't sound like a ordinary sentence.

After endless head banging in the middle of the night, I was inspired by an ancient Chinese proverb:

世上无难事,只怕有心人 (pinyin: shì shàng wú nán shì, zhǐ pà yǒu xīn rén) (world+on+without+difficult+circumstances, only+fear+have+heart+people)

* Literally: You must persevere to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks.
* Moral: Everything can be done with enough perseverance.
* Compare: Where there's a will, there's a way.

And I came to realize this is exactly the text type I'm seeking for, proverbs/sayings from different cultures.

According to Wikipedia,

A proverb, (from the Latin proverbium), is a simple and concrete saying popularly known and repeated, which expresses a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical. A proverb that describes a basic rule of conduct may also be known as a maxim. If a proverb is distinguished by particularly good phrasing, it may be known as an aphorism.

Proverbs are often borrowed from similar languages and cultures, and sometimes come down to the present through more than one language. Both the Bible (Book of Proverbs) and medieval Latin have played a considerable role in distributing proverbs across Europe, although almost every culture has examples of its own.


Proverb has the short, precise, flexible text element I seek but yet always contains interesting literal meanings when translated.



* 肉(ròu)包(bāo)子(zi)打(dǎ)狗(gǒu) (meat+bun(2nd and 3rd)+hit+dog)
o Literally: To hit a dog with a meat-bun.
o Interpretation: Punishment with a reward never works.
o Moral: Don't use the wrong method to approach a problem.



* Nō aru taka wa tsume wo kakusu.
* Literally: The talented hawk hides its claws
o A wise man keeps some of his talents in reserve


* Avec des si, on mettrait Paris en bouteille.
o Literal translation: With ifs, Paris could be put in a bottle.
o Idiomatic translation: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.


* A perro flaco todo son pulgas.
o Translation: To a skinny dog, all are fleas.
o Interpretations:
+ If/when you are weak, it will seem that only problems surround you.
+ To the weak of character, all responsibilities are irritating.
+ To misers, all are parasites.



Currently I'm finishing up three final texts and will be done by the end of this week.

1. 4 different language poems under a same theme (like the ones I presented at the final critique last quarter), attempt to explore inner thoughts of similar poets through translation. More of a content oriented approach.

2. 4 different language poems with 4 different emotional provoking, but translations would potentially take out the language aesthetic. More of a sound oriented approach.

3. Proverb, using close to 100 proverbs from the 4 languages (25 proverbs/each language) to create a giant meshed language sound art that speaks "truth" through repeating and echoing. (Just thought of this method over the last weekend, so I need to finish a draft for this approach FAST.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Envisioning Final Installation

The final installation will be taken place at a corner of the gallery room.

The final parchment text print will be displayed 45 degree against the corner while two speakers take place from both walls, creating a surrounding environment for the listener.

Display lighting will radiate the parchment text from above ceiling, creating a visual focus center while dim the surrounding speakers.

<=The envisioned installation image...

Projected Schedule

WEEK 3 - 4.14 - Raitt 205
Research final print material (parchment)
Finalize the new script
Schedule and do sound recording with the French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese speakers.

WEEK 4 - 4.21 - Raitt 205
Acquire a 2.1 channel speakers and parchment
Sound recording with the French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese speakers, continue
Composing & editing
Seek feedback

WEEK 5 - 4.28 - Fremont
Revise and polish the soundtrack and texts
Do a second round of recording if necessary
test soundtrack to 2.1 channel speakers
Seek feedback
Midterm critiques:Group A Presentation

WEEK 6 - 5.5 - Fremont
Finalize the soundtrack for midterm critiques
Midterm critiques: Group B Presentation

WEEK 7 - 5.12 - Raitt 205
Re-polish the soundtrack and solve any art and technical problems from the feedback.
Complete the final text print
Seek feedback

WEEK 8 - 5.19 - Fremont
Final critiques: Group A
Installation testing; sound/lighting/print

WEEK 9 - Wednesday - 5.26 - Fremont
Final critiques: Group B
Solve any last minute problems

Thursday - 5.27 - SOA
Install begins at 5PM in SOA galleries... continues through weekend

WEEK 10 - Tuesday 6.1
Exhibition begins 4-6:30

Self Reflections

What do I want to convey? What is the reason why I started this languages sound art?

Do I have to use a specific language to provoke an emotion or rather attempt to answer a question I have toward "language" itself? IE, since French is a language of romance, does that mean I have to provoke a sweet loving emotion? or use German to convey anger or violent emotion?

I don't know by provoking different specific emotions using different unique languages is what I really want to achieve, because there's already a stereotype impression of languages among the public. And it serves no meanings even if I get it translated and let alone two translations.

I'm looking for a common quality of different languages that will get converged by the literal/google and target/polished translations. One feedback I received from last quarter's final critique is that my contents doesn't match the echoing feeling and suggested that I should find a more relevant text, whether it's another poem or dialogues, and try composing the three sound materials in different order.

Ultimately I want to achieve a mundane feeling of brainwashing through a series of sound transformation from native source to target text.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Additional Sound Onomatopoeia FRENCH, SPANISH and CHINESE

Additional Sound Onomatopoeia references

French Onomatopoeia



Japanese Sound Symbolism

One thing I remember studying in Japanese is the usage of Japanese Sound Symbolism.
Japanese has an unique sound system to mimic and illustrate various situations and object sounds. Similar to English sound words; Bang, Wham, Zap for example.

doki doki [suru] a throbbing heart

shiin to [suru] [be (lit. do)] quiet [sound that portray silence]
(suru not optional)

Wiki Japanese Sound Symbolism

I would like to use different languages sound symbolism words to add a secondary level of audio texture to the final piece. I hope by adding the cultural sounds, it would add additional sound uniqueness and richness to each segment of the poem.

Sample Text Audio

I've uploaded two sample text audio tracks for preview. Let me know what's your first impression and feel free to offer any suggestion.
This is only a rough vocal tone tweaks, more effects will be implemented in the final piece.

zSHARE - Saigyo_poem 1_effectv1.wav

zSHARE - Lilu_poem 1_effectv1.wav

It takes a bit time to load.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

UPDATES 3.2.10 New Poem texts

To start off fresh again with my languages mingling poems, I researched a several poets who are famous for expressing their inner thoughts about life/death/dream.

Gacela of the Dark Death by Federico Garcia Lorca (Spanish)
Miscellaneous, No. 723 in Sankashu by Saigyo (Japanese)
L'Ennemi (The Enemy) by Charles Baudelaire (French)
How Can a Man Escape Life's Sorrow and Regret? By Li Yu (Chinese)

I purposely pick these four poems because of the genre and their compatibility. The four poems can be linked up in a proper order and become a much more intense and expressive poem piece. In a way, it is similar to the Japanese collaborative poem format, Renga, which require each poet to create a continuing poem given by the previous poet.

Wiki - RENGA

What I am conceiving here is a Language Progressing Comprehensive Approach. In any translation, it starts off from the original text and to the final polished translation, but often we miss the literal translation part in between the translating process. Literal translation can be viewed as the essence of the original text coated with the words of the translating language. For many listeners, literal translation provides comedic value more than its usefulness since both sides listens aren't accustom to the hybrid text. But it's an interesting text material for providing unusual linguistic and grammar to create an ambiguous language sound space.

I intend to using the vocal sounds of these three text materials to harness an semi-comprehensible linguistic sound space that can be perceived differently by individual's language skills. I expect a single language speaker would have different level of comprehensive feedback compare to two, or three, or even four languages speakers.

The following poems include, the polished translation text, the original text, and the literal translation text, in that order.

I want to sleep the dream of the apples, [Polished Translation]
Quiero dormir el sueño de las manzanas [Original text]
I sleep the sleep of apples [Literal Translation]

to withdraw from the tumult of cemetries.
alejarme del tumulto de los cementerios.
away from the tumult of cemeteries

I don't want to hear again that the dead do not lose their blood,
No quiero que me repitan que los muertos no pierden la sangre;
I do not want to repeat that the dead do not lose their blood;

that the putrid mouth goes on asking for water.
que la boca podrida sigue pidiendo agua.
that the rotting mouth continues for water.

I don't want to learn of the tortures of the grass,
No quiero enterarme de los martirios que da la hierba,
I do not want to hear of the martyrdom that gives the grass,

nor of the moon with a serpent's mouth
ni de la luna con boca de serpiente
or the snake-mouthed moon

that labors before dawn.
que trabaja antes del amanecer.
working before dawn.

I want to sleep awhile,
Quiero dormir un rato,
I want some sleep,

awhile, a minute, a century;
un rato, un minuto, un siglo;
awhile, a minute, a century;

but all must know that I have not died;
pero que todos sepan que no he muerto;
but everybody knows they have not died;

The empty sky
Become empty
of my heart
Heart spring

Enshrouded in spring mist
By haze

Rises to thoughts of
Escape from the world

Leaving the world behind
Do you think?

As I ponder
Kick the dandruff

my waning shadow
The shadow of our world

of life far gone
Also permanency to us

in the distance
The moon or repellent

the moon sets
sink into the end

I’ve tossed aside the world of sorrows
Beside fleeting life

as a stranger to myself
to forsake

So what note will I now sound
Change in what way

what will become of me
Myself become

My youth has been nothing but a tenebrous storm,
Ma jeunesse ne fut qu'un ténébreux orage,
My youth was a dark storm

Pierced now and then by rays of brilliant sunshine;
Traversé çà et là par de brillants soleils;
Crossed here and there by brilliant suns

Thunder and rain have wrought so much havoc
Le tonnerre et la pluie ont fait un tel ravage,
Thunder and rain have caused such havoc

That very few ripe fruits remain in my garden.
Qu'il reste en mon jardin bien peu de fruits vermeils.
Let him stay in my little garden of red fruits.

I have already reached the autumn of the mind,
Voilà que j'ai touché l'automne des idées,
Now I have touched the autumn ideas

And I must set to work with the spade and the rake
Et qu'il faut employer la pelle et les râteaux
And I must use the shovel and rakes

To gather back the inundated soil
Pour rassembler à neuf les terres inondées,
To bring to nine the flooded land,

In which the rain digs holes as big as graves.
Où l'eau creuse des trous grands comme des tombeaux.
Where the water digs holes as large as tombs.

And who knows whether the new flowers I dream of
Et qui sait si les fleurs nouvelles que je rêve
And who knows if the new flowers I dream

Will find in this earth washed bare like the strand,
Trouveront dans ce sol lavé comme une grève
Find in this soil washed like a strike

How can a man escape life's sorrow and regret?
Life sorrow regret how can avoid

What limit is there to my solitary grief?
Overwhelm sorrow alone my feeling what limit

I returned to my homeland in a dream,
Old country dream again return

As I awakened, I shed two tears.
Wake come two tears fall

Who now will climb up those high towers,
High tower who do climb

I remember those clear autumn scenes.
Long remember autumn clear scene

Those past events have lost their meaning,
Past events already become empty

They disappear as in a dream.
Gone like a dream in

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Here's the original poem material that I am attempting to mingle with 6 different languages (ENG, CHN, JPN, FRN, SPN, KRN)

Oh Poets, why sing of roses! Let them flower in your poems!
In the beginning was the Word.
The world is holy! The soul is holy!
The typewriter is holy the poem is holy the voice is holy!

Sing, O Orpheus! A tree grows in your ears
"Tree! You can be a canoe! Or else you cannot!"
Here are swim-stick words you can use to scare away sharks
The sound is spirited, green, and full of silence
The colors ripen on the weightless branch of time

A black, E white, I red, O blue, U green
A word sits on the kitchen counter
Let the house be dead silent
Today is the world-pregnant day of judgment
Everything only connected by 'and' and 'and.'

We are entitled to die the way we want to die.
Let the land hide in an ear of wheat.
This poetry, I never know what I'm going to say
It's the long story that never comes to an end.
To write into emptiness
It has always been this way.

The slightest pain hurts me, the slightest joy overwhelms
What you see here is colorful illusion...corpse, dust, shadow, nothing.
Only the poet sells his soul to separate it from the body that he loves
Farewell, thou art too dear for my possessing.
The abyss doesn't divide us. The abyss surrounds us.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

DX492 Thesis Prototyoe Proposal -Worldly Voices-

Worldly Voices

No matter how advance the communication technologies have evolved in the past decade, speech language is still the primary communication device in this world. But THIS world, however, have a total of 6,700 languages!! Most people hardly can speak more than two languages already, let alone speaking more than 3, 4 or 5 languages. This world is massive, and so is the population, most people know that there are 6.7 billions people living in this world. But can they imagine putting 6.7 billions people in an open space. That is a lot of people speaking 6,700 different languages in this world. Unfortunately (or fortunately for some people), according to People Daily's article, the existing languages we have now will be cut by half in this century. Still a lot in my opinion, 3350 languages left.

Number of languages in the world to be cut by half in a century

Here's the top 10 languages link (wiki)

As a speaker of 4 languages myself; English, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Cantonese (a dialect, not an official language). I have encountered many interesting situations with people from around the world. Most foreign speakers have probably encountered this kind of scenario; a friend comes up to you and ask you to teach him how to say "hello" in your language, or in a more fitting situation, ask you how to swear in your language. And of course, 99.9%, they can't pronounce it correctly the first time, and it always reminds me when I first learned English. But most importantly, people always like to pun with their new found words, whether it's good or bad puns.

Human beings like to find similarities or connections to something they are familiar in order to help them remember things, same thing using puns to learn a new language. And there are always comedic values in foreign language puns. For example, Niggaa (means 'that' in Mandarin), or Fuku mi (A Japanese name, well... ) . But this happens around the world, whether an Indian learning to speak English or an Italian learning Thai.

I believe I mentioned this idea at the end of last quarter. I wanted to create an video/sound installation art of a mesh audio using 20 different unique languages. Though the languages are meshed, but the content should have a meaning, whether it's a poem or a speech. Every sentence will be stringed up with different language words. Puns will be used for distractions and confusion, but some English words will be used in the correct context.

Visually and technically, I have an idea of a kaleidoscope device, I want the users to be in control of the meshed audio. Inside of a Kaleidoscope will display dozens of fractured images and the users could rotate ( or some-sort of a control), depending on the control speed and the rotation, the next words in a sentence will be randomly picked and played by the device program. This way it offers replay value for the users to interpret the context of the audio speech.

DX492 1st post testing...About Japan Trip

Blog Testing...
Glad to be back in Seattle. Terrible Jet lag over a week now, but I think I finally fixed it. Nothing a few sleeping pills can't take care of.

This almost 4 weeks trip to Japan has really opened my mind in terms of what I want to achieve in life and my creative making. Met lots of old friends from Siggraph, but also made a bunch of new friends as well. I'm glad Janice was able to volunteer for Siggraph Yokohama, that makes it two students from UW. However the second Siggraph Asia is definitely not the best one so far. Too many language barriers between the TLs (Team leader) and the native Japanese students. Though Japan being one of the most advance society in the world, there are still a lot of English improvement to catch up. I guess I was ok because I can speak intermediate Japanese, so at least I made a lot of Japanese friends while I was working with the native Japanese students.

After Siggraph Yokohama, I went on a backpacking trip with my friend Jeremy. We both traveled seven cities (Yokohama, Tokyo, Hakone, Mt. Fuji, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara) in 8 days. We spent our X'mas in Kyoto with other international backpackers from the hostel at a club. Two nights of no sleep and 2 Redbull Vodka plus 4 Jauger Bombs was a disaster after the party, but it is well worth it. Oh ya did I mention I took a shot of Everclear. Lost my voice for two days...

After the backpacking, I returned back to Tokyo for some "business matters", basically went and did media coverages at Kouhaku music concert at NHK's Hall and comiket. Met some family friends and did New Year shoppings in Tokyo. Celebration of New year in a foreign land is definitely interesting, it is very different than in US and even in Taiwan or Hong Kong. I learned even though the celebration methods are different across the globe, but everyone is still celebrating the same thing after all despite the cultural differences.

PS. I think Kansai girls are prettier than Kantou girls.... :)