Lost in Translation

A custom made robot that responds to a series of texts and makes drawings unique to each reader. Readers are invited to step up to the lectern and read into a microphone from a specially made book called Lost In Translation. The book consists of passages from The Bible, The Torah, The Quran and a take away menu. The text and voice are interpreted via software and a robot is set into action on a custom made plinth to interpret what it all means.

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This is a custom made robot that responds to a series of texts and makes drawings unique to each reader. Readers are invited to step up to the lectern and read into a microphone from a specially made book called Lost In Translation. The book consists of passages from The Bible, The Torah, The Quran and a take away menu. The text and voice are interpreted via software and a robot is set into action on a custom made plinth to interpret what it all means.

The robot interprets the text and the voice to create a painting on canvas of the results. The work questions not only the meaning and interpretation of text but just who controls our understanding of the outputs and indeed what is Lost In Translation. This is a very playful user friendly work and actively engages the audience not only to think about the text but the meaning of how automation and networked technology is changing the control of understanding.

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Context

We live in an age of automation and our trust in machines governs our actions and reason. The world of machines are becoming more and more autonomous and the information they present difficult to trust. But how do we trust our sources? Sources can have very different approaches, trusted behind the information they offer.

The texts we read today have different intentions and interpretations and our understanding differs from the original. Indeed texts have to be interpreted and parsed by our brains for understanding. Each sentence is broken down into its component parts of speech an explanation of the form, function, and syntactical relationship of each part so that we gain some meaning.

 

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Technical Overview: The process of controlling the robot is: Analyse speech—> transmit commands to robot —> robot draws lines.

How it works. The Robot is controlled over an 868 Mhz serial data wireless link, from a custom app. written using Xojo. The app. hooks into the OSX speech recognition system to extract words as the user is reading the text. The words are analysed for alphabetical order and length, and these values are used as indexes into a command table. The command table stores the data that describes a robot movement, or set of movements. These are sent in real-time to the robot and it moves and draws patterns. If the robot encounters a wall it moves away a random amount, and then carries on executing the commands.

The user interacts with the robot in the following manner: Standing on a pressure mat in front of the microphone cause the app. to start listening for speech input. The app. makes a short beep when it is ready. As the user reads the text, the text appears in a field in the app. to show what is being read. When the user steps off the mat, the app. stops the robot and stops listening for speech input.

Commissioned by Milton Keynes Libraries and funded by Arts Council England as part of The Digitalis Programme.
Exhibition Overview:

This work is available for touring and can be shown on various contexts. It now has two robots one is a spare for back up.

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More Info:

www.stanza.co.uk

http://stanza.co.uk/lost_in_translation/index.html

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