An experiment tracing the transformation of a narrative through the Chinese whisper effect caused by human memory inaccuracies and computer recording discrepancies.

Operated at Open-labĀ at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa July 8th-13th

open lab draft idea

Step 1 - Listening to the story read aloud by the computer.

Step1 (laptop1) - Listening to the story read aloud by the computer.

Step2 (laptop2) - Speak and register the remembered story.

Step 3 (tablet) - Spoken stories have been accumulated on the online database.

Back to step 1 - The next visitor will listen to the story that the previous teller left on the computer. (and continues to Step2, Step 3.. and so on)

Extract from the database - the visitors can check how the story has been modified

In this experiment, participants witnessed the process of how stories transform by executing a game of "Chinese whisper" between humans and computers through the computer's text-to-speech and automatic speech recognition functions. As the starting point for the experiment, the famous folktale "Imohori Goro" in Kanazawa was chosen. Over the course of five days and with a total of 30 participants, the story of "Imohori Goro" underwent changes. At one point, Goro transformed into an old man and then disappeared, and the story shifted from digging sweet potatoes to digging gold.

One notable discovery was that participants from Kanazawa, if present, were familiar with this well-known story as a local folk tale, and the name "Goro" occasionally resurfaced.

Due to the nature of the game being a "Chinese whisper," some participants found the changes intriguing. This game operates on the premise that it is not interesting unless it changes, and this realization was a significant discovery for us living in Japanese society, where we often earnestly search for the right answer, witnessing the fact that there can be multiple right answers. It is worth delving into this concept on a global scale.

By intervening with technology, we were able to visualize how the speed of change in stories, which would typically take centuries to transform, accelerated. From this, we glimpsed the role that we ourselves play in the changes that we normally wouldn't notice, as we are usually immersed in the larger currents of change.
Furthermore, while the focus of this transforming story centers around the positive aspects of change, it's worth considering that depending on the perspective, it could be interpreted to endorse fake news. This aspect also sparked a desire for further contemplation.

Finally, in collaboration with Helen Papaioannou, who was also visiting Kanazawa, we performed a live performance lasting approximately 8 minutes at Theatre21, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, utilizing the material of the "story transformation process" gathered at this Open Lab. After this performance, we engaged in discussions with guest facilitator Takashi Sawa about the significance of performing live and the digital archival nature of the content.
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