Avital Meshi and Jia Zhao
We Are All Different as a Second Language
Video; Dimensions variable
This project is a video piece inspired by a conversation between two foreigner women. While conversing in English, both explore their ability to find understanding and still deliver clues of their original identities and cultures. In this process a path for cross-cultural and cross-linguistic traffic unfolds.
The conversation is composed of two different components; stop motion footage and a voice over. The stop motion is a performance of a children’s game which is universally familiar: Two cups and a string serve as a communication tool. It starts by following the game’s conventional rules but as the game continues, more cups and strings are added and a new range of body movements is introduced. The negotiation between the two bodies becomes more fluid and a new understanding is built. Movements seem to spring from the women’s inner necessity rather from the game’s rigid convention.
The voice over dialogue that is attached to the stop motion depicts a mechanical process of translation. Using a specific translation software, a statement that was initially written in the women’s native languages, Hebrew and Chinese, is translated to English through 30 different languages. From Hebrew it is translated to French, from French to Hindu, from Hindu to Bulgarian and so on. Only at the last stage it is translated to English and is used in the conversation. This process is repeated over and over again in order to exhaust the software and to push the boundaries of the spoken language. Eventually, the conventional grammar is broken and an intermediate language is formed. The conversation shifts to convey a new sense and to deliver new ideas that are developed through mechanical process.