Machines of Translation

Making the stories we have collected into work for the exhibition, I become interested in technologies for recording, translating and constructing stories, after reading an article in Cabinet magazine. (

Which explores the history of Charles Babbages’ Difference Engine and Analytical Engine, the precursor to the computer. Curiously enough, the machine I am constructing to process the stories creates something very similar to the punch cards used in early Information Technology:

Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies offers another possibility for constructing stories, through the use of Tarot cards. The symbology of the cards combined creates a multitude of stories. The process we’ve used to translate personal histories has involved selecting an object for each person’s story, photographing it onto film and then passing this film through the translation machine (the Aurophone).

Each story becomes an image, overlaid with a pattern of dots.

These could be seen as a pack of cards, a series of symbols to shuffle and rearrange, whilst the market is perhaps a contemporary version of the Castle of Crossed Destinies. The work’s title is Confabulation, which reflects the combining of real and imagined objects of memory and possibilities of constructing narratives from this archive of absences.

Once the films are processed, punched and passed through the machine, the sound is recorded and combined with the animated positives of the films. I am reminded of scratch film experiments like those by Hy Hirsh:

and I wonder how this could combine with a modern day take on punch cards,

GNU plots, to create a moving image of plotted data based on narratives of places. Could these random patterings reveal something of the uniqueness of a point of crossing of paths?

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