Illegible City

TL;DR: Inspired by Jeffrey Shaw’s Legible City, Illegible City explores our inability to communicate. It is an interactive piece where a viewer would write a letter that the custom software would convert into a 3D city for the viewer to explore. The viewer than has the option to share this letter with another for them to explore.

Illegible City is a homage to Jeffrey Shaw’s Legible City where a viewer can interact with a piece: traversing through a city made of words via bicycle in order to personally define the city they are traversing “accumulating its history” (Media Art Net).

There are always words in our minds that we dare not say. From a little teenage boy wanting to tell his first crush his longing for her to be on his dodgeball team, to a dying grand father, wanting to tell his long lost son how much he loves him. Everyone have a story they want, but can not share. This piece explores our action of trying to convey to someone our heart, in ways that subverts its meaning. In doing the exercise, the viewer embodies his/her urge to say what he/she can not. It brings to the surface the emotion that is in all of us.

The exploration of the city explores the receiver end of human interaction. Many times, when we attempt to understand someone’s message, its meaning is lost in its construction. The city is a construction based on the message from the sender. Try as the receiving viewer might, however, the receiving viewer will not be able to truly decipher the meaning of the message. Was this a letter of love, or a letter of hate?

Although the viewer writes the letter, it is immediately converted into a 3D model representing it. This conversion is both a destructive and creative process as it destroys the original content and meaning in the letter, but creates a new representation with new data—that is the keystrokes. This new data is both is and not the letter. On one hand, it represents the thoughts that went into the letter, but at the same time it no longer contains the intended message. The letter “e” is both in love and hate. Thus the letter is of no consequence since no one can decipher it. Moreover, this process can be repeated ad infinitum since medium is digital and the program can be run forever.

Photos from UCLA Undergraduate Show 2013 UV/UG

Made in Processing.

Done for UCLA DMA’s Interactivity class. Professor: Casey Reas; T.A. Gottfried Haider