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.... :)