Sujin Lee

Live Performance

I used Google Translate to translate into Korean a text piece I wrote in English. Along with a Korean translation, Google's service provided another English “translation,” which is a pronunciation of the Korean translation, written in English. During my performance, my English text was projected on a screen while I read aloud the Korean translation, written in English. By doing so, I was consciously producing the sound of the Korean language through English. The reading was done without rehearsals. The sounds I made definitely resembled Korean, however, they were never “fluent” or “clear” enough. The Korean language in the performance mostly functioned as abstract sounds both for me and the audience. The audience was asked to use Google Translate on their phone to scan and translate the English text in the projection into Russian (or any other language of their choice). It resulted in an odd mixture of English and another language and sometimes various versions of (mis)translations of the English text. In my performance, English is presented as the “main language” but it is broken down by a system (Google Translate) that is built around the English language. I entered “deltitnu,” which is the word “untitled” spelled backwards, into Google Translate, to be translated into Russian. It gave me “
Дельтиту” leaving out the “n” sound for some reason (it no longer provides the same translation). I combined the two words to create the title deltitnu—Дельтиту.

Photo by Andy Dmitrenko

What I had on my laptop screen (the text at the bottom is what I read aloud):

What the audience saw in the projection screen (left) and what they saw in Google Translate (English to Russian):

© Sujin Lee