Exercises of listening with automated transcription

Beirut, Lebanon | January 2020

Google Live Transcribe became a tool to record the recollection of a legal document.

As part of Lebanese foreign affairs protocol, a group of us were required to register ourselves for a residence permit. As part of the undertaking, we were required to sign a ‘condition of responsibility’ document. We had been asked to leave our belongings, including our phones, at the entrance. Therefore, it was not possible to make any kind of documentation. The only thing to carry away was the memory of the experience.

I interviewed those who had accompanied me, to describe the contents of the same document. I recorded their testimonies using the Google live transcription app. Interestingly, all the voices described the same content but the algorithms erred to produce slightly altered iterations of it. As a result, the implied legal weight of the original document took to absurd and humorous renditions.

Below are screen recordings of a few of these iterations.

Beirut, Lebanon | January 2020

A loud news reporter blares through a youtube video on a screen. A transcription app is kept on to transcribe the speech. The activity entailed performing a refusal to listen to the reporter’s speech through interruptions in transcription, and invoke the algorithm’s interpretation of environmental sounds. A turkish song was sung, papers were torn, pigeon calls mimicked and an arabic lullaby sung towards the screen.