Read my Lips

Gerda Lampalzer’s video installation Translation from 2003, was based on the idea that every human language could potentially contain the others on the level of spoken sound. Following this idea, conversations with four non german speakers were poetically “translated” into german with a new meaning, through the use of video editing software.

4 HD Videos, 30:00 min

The reinterpretation of Gerda Lampalzers Translation, transfers this conception towards the level of the image. The video of a speaker of a text in one language, becomes the starting point for a poetic translation by lip readers, who were socialised in other languages. The basic material for this translation is a spoken list of artificial languages, ranging from Esperanto and Volapük towards fictional languages from Literatura and media, such as Klingon or the languages from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

The aim of Read My Lips is to experiment with the potential of meaning that results from the visual material of different positions of the speaker’s mouth. In this sense, the matrix of poetic transformation, which is at work in Gerda Lampalzers work of art, which operated on the level of spoken language and showed its operational traces in the edited video, is shifted towards an exploration of the potential of the image. Contemporary phenomena, such as the youtube sensation of “bad lip reading” as well as the recent surge in artificial intelligence technology connected to lip reading, form the background for this experimental setting.

Concept, Camera, Sound, Post-production: Axel Stockburger / Translation: Lippenleser-Agentur Judith und André Harter, / Actor: Brishty Alam / Speakers: Anna Ceeh. Marlene Maier, Emilia Lopez. Produced with funds by the IMA Institute for Media Archeology. Thanks to: Gerda Lampalzer, Elisabeth Schimana, Dariusz Kowalski, Kai Maier-Rothe.