Day-to-Day Data
Adele Prince
Title: De do do do, de da da da
(They're meaningless and all that's true)

Location: Web-based commission for this website
Launch Project >

Kevin’s web-project masquerades as BabyTalk™ – Translation and Pronunciation Software – a place where you can learn what babies are actually saying in their garbled gobbledegook. You can take a quick fire lesson in this strange language, by watching video clips of Kevin with his 11-month old baby Jake. Kevin has created a vast database of baby words and their translations. As the clip plays these words and translations appear on screen for you to learn by heart. If you’re short on time, that’s OK because BabyTalk™ allows you to choose just how long your lesson will be – from a beginner’s 30 seconds to an enthusiast’s 25 minutes.
video still from De do do do, de da da da
video still from De do do do, de da da da...
Much of my work to date has focused on the relationship between society and the utopian promise of technology, in particular the desire for seamless interaction between humans and technology based systems. From a critical point of view this relationship might be understood as a spatial problem, based on a belief that intelligence resides within a technological system, rather than as part of a shared, though often transparent, interaction. It is these interactions, implicit in our relationship with technology, with which my work is currently concerned.

Recent works have used voice, both computer generated and human, as a medium to explore these interactions. Seamless Human Computer Interaction (HCI) is always imagined in Science Fiction to be conducted via the medium of voice. In reality, the current abilities of Speech Recognition (SR) systems fall way short of this fantasy. Current SR software tends to work well in noiseless, context-free environments. But if a particular context is introduced, perception of the meanings produced by the interaction may change radically.

In the manner of SR software architecture, I have compiled a lexicon of words based on my son Jake’s pre-language baby talk. I have extracted these phonetic sound words and their resulting translations from a 7 hour video of Jake’s day. These sound words and accompanying translations are a guess, made by me, on the articulation and meaning of Jake’s words based on the context in which they were spoken.

In parallel to this approach, I was keen to create a particular tension in the way the audiences interacted with the work. The work’s interface design and functionality have been informed by quickfix language learning resources. This approach is taken to an extreme by allowing the audience to decide how long they wish to spend viewing the work. This decision has an explicit effect on the manner of the work’s final representation.

Kevin Carter
April 2005

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