Transliteration Project::revising the fifty US state seals for the digital age
Translation is a form of betrayal: it is a traduction, a reconstitution made of sacrifice and revision. —William Gass
This digital art project utilizes Google Translate, Google Earth, and Google NGRAM as a basis for reworking the mottos and seals of the fifty states.
Each motto is sequentially translated through the five most prevalent spoken languages in a given state. For example, Virginia's state motto is 'Thus always to tyrants'. I plugged this into Google Translate and went from English to Spanish, then from Spanish to Korean then into Vietnamese, then Chinese, then Afrikaans and finally back into English where the motto morphed into - 'Therefore it is always a tyrant'.
Each seal is created from a landscape satellite image of the area where Google Earth dropped the pin for that state. I selected the specific images as representative snapshots of a given state or motto, or some combination, based on my own impressions and aesthetics.
As a footnote, a chart is included for each state that tracks the usage over the last 200 years of each state motto as determined and generated by Google NGRAM viewer, which is a phrase usage graphing tool that charts the yearly count of selected ngrams (letter combinations) or words and phrases, as found in over 5.2 million books digitized by Google.
This project originated as a studio based question that I asked myself for my annual summer project: How would my voice and artistic style, which on paper and canvas is tactile and intuitive, translate into a digital medium that is non-tactile and empirical?
This project will debut at the NYC Poetry Festival 2014 on Governors Island and was part of a group exhibit, self-published at Cohn Drennan Contemporary Art in Dallas, Texas.