In this work, the scenery of a forest in a remote area in Japan is broadcast via live stream. At the site, words related to the coronavirus are played over a speaker, mix with the random sounds of the surrounds and then captured on a microphone. This recording is then converted into slightly unnatural language by an automatic voice recognition program, and the process of voice output—sound collection—erroneous conversion is repeated, resulting in the phrases gradually changing. While it would have been possible to express the mistranslation of words in cyberspace alone, Mohri intentionally introduces the element of the real world. It is as though the confusion between the real and the virtual we see today has been superimposed on this confusion of language.
This work was inspired by For the Birds (1981), a dialogue between John Cage and Daniel Charles. Cage’s surname is of course reminiscent of “bird cage” and today we, with our movements restricted, are like birds in a cage. The artist has in mind our daily life with the coronavirus, in which we, trapped, encounter countless words on the internet that gradually diverge and morph into ideas quite different from the facts (sometimes intentionally). A bird feeder is placed in front of the camera, but will the birds—as free as they are—really join this loop of misconversion?
Exhibition history: 11 Stories on Distanced Relationships: Contemporary Art from Japan
For the Birds