Cristobal Mendoza

Every Word I Saved (Uttered) (2007)

Custom Software

Every Word I Saved (Uttered) is the third in a series of works based on a database of every word that the artist wrote and saved in his various computers from 2000 to 2006. The words were harvested from sent emails, text documents and instant messaging logs. Each word preserves only its original capitalization; other than this, their original context is erased by the alphabetical organization.

Every instance of every word in the database is presented via custom realtime software alphabetically, and then ordered by date, flowing in the screen from left to right while at the same time being uttered out loud via a text-to-speech software library. The software pauses the flow of words whenever the first occurrence of a word is encountered, and at the same time it highlights it by displaying it at a much larger size than the baseline font size. However, as a word is repeated, the pace of the flow quickens until the words become hard to read and their utterances start to overrun each other, turning what was somewhat intelligible synthetic speech into a phonetic soup. As opposed to the first piece in this series, in which uncommon words are all but impossible to read, Uttered emphasizes the non-repeating words by drastically slowing the pace down to allow for both reading and listening of the word. Uttered takes into account the time of the day in which the word was saved when it places it on the vertical axis of the screen. Thus, repeating words that come from the same text document or email are displayed in a straight line, due to the fact that as far as the machine is concerned, all of these words were saved at the same time. In contrast, repeating words that originate from instant messaging logs tend to have a rising tendency; this is especially true of very common words, such as pronouns. The position of a word in the vertical axis also determines its pitch, which gives the piece a musical quality.

The whole series attempts to display an incredibly personal source of data in the most dispassionate of ways, pointing perhaps to the nature of how databases see us, or how we are represented in databases. In the so-called “information society” we are known by the data trail we leave; thus, it is fitting that self-portraiture be moved to this realm. The Every Word I Saved series is one attempt at addressing this notion, revealing both the nature of the database and its radical difference between how we are known by database systems as opposed to how we know each other.

More information about this and other works can be found at:

exhibition/cristobal_mendoza.txt · Last modified: 2008/10/09 17:33 by participant
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