On Behalf of the Voice

Radical Project by Meera Badran

On Behalf of the Voice’ explores the role of physical and digital infrastructures in aiding political power, and their use to control Arabic-speaking bodies in the city of East Jerusalem. This exploration takes on a multi-scalar approach — from the architecture of the territory down to the body of the [in]dividual — focusing on the concept of ‘dividuation’. Through the implementation of digital software (including the surveillance and collection of data, metadata and biometrics), a ‘dividual’ becomes the breakdown of an individual to their digitally diminutive parts.

Within this dividuation, this project focuses on the voice, speech and language – exploring the role of speech translation software and their effects when used on the society of East Jerusalem. Here, speech operated softwares, although extremely advanced, remain deeply flawed due to the complexity of the Arabic language and its dialects, causing glitches and mistranslations. Four softwares and their flaws are explored: Layered Voice Analysis 6.50, Athena, Facebook’s Neural Machine Translation and Google Assistant.

‘On Behalf of the Voice’ therefore emphasizes that the language that we speak and the dialects in which we speak, retains a level of resolution that the AI software does not. The project looks into the internal spatial cartography of the Arabic-Speaking tongue to propose a dialectal map and an architecture of resistance against softwares of control.

My project fits in with both axes of ‘State of Change’ and ‘The Department of Disinformation’, focusing on digital softwares and language, new systems and technologies – while also emphasizing colonial realities, and a fight for indigenous knowledge (in my case, the beauty in Arabic-speaking tongues).

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