This project is a collaboration with Mr. Lieven Van Speybroeck
The Listener is a multi-person chatting program. The conversations are mediated by a "third person", a computer script that adds, subtracts and replaces words to deliberately create discrepancies in what is shown, and understood by the users. Every chatter sees their own unaltered version of the transcript, but every other person sees a transformed version.
As these subtle changes are secretly operated on a secure server, a large plotter instantly prints out the complete transcript with both original and altered versions, shedding light on the inner workings steering The Listener's behavior and creating an eternal, physical artifact to embody these fragile, ephemeral variations.
If the assertion that text and reader implode to create a 'new' third thing (often called meaning, or subjectivity) holds true when one reads a text, then it is this new creation I am trying to address. By slipping itself between the textual exchange, The Listener shifts the conversation slightly by altering certain words and sentences. In most cases, confusion ensues and new trajectories are followed by the participants, depending on the level of alteration (ranging from none to extreme).
When a user sends a message to the other ones, he or she sees the original text but the others see the altered version. This technique of showing/concealing is a sneaky strategy meant to underline the subtle inner workings of computer programs when mediating the information we consume online. I have written some words on this subject here.
user input (js) -> ajax call to php function -> medtiation script (python) in CGI -> writes to conversation log file -> ajax call to php (read the text file, check for changes) -> js send to users' screens (content dependent on the author)
- Splash screen
- Mediation occurs. The author sees their original text, the others see the mediated version.
- What the text file looks like - the delimiters could be a bit more intelligent, I know.