Misunderstood: Duologue with a Broken Machine
Jordan Matthew Yerman / Canada
“Misunderstood: Duologue with a Broken Machine” explores the relationship between two imperfect entities: an algorithmic translator and a human reader. A North American actor reads aloud the text of a Polish citizenship form as translated on the fly by his overworked smartphone—he tries to make sense of what he is told to understand. Human and machine are seen to struggle in consummating an informational transaction.
The embodied performance—moving between echo, question, and challenge—evokes that of playing with a Ouija board: easy answers are sought from thin air, but instead the user must seek meaning and structure through seemingly-arbitrary external cues. Despite the promise of instant information, the networked smartphone profoundly fails at its task, glitching as it leaves its human interlocutor at the mercy of a frustratingly, beautifully inscrutable set of instructions that can ultimately change the shape of his identity.