Evasion Score II: Domestic Security

Presented at Liveworks for Performance Space, 2021

EVASION SCORE is an ongoing project that investigates relationships between the voice, technological surveillance, and the politicisation and militarisation of words and phrases in everyday speech.

As a starting point for this graphic score and video performance, I used a corpus of words released by the USA's Department of Homeland Security, under a Freedom of Information request issued in 2012.

 

The 331 words listed, are actively monitored on social media platforms as triggers for potential terrorist or other threats against the USA. The list includes words such as "bomb", "terrorist" and "attack" as well as more pedestrian words such as "exercise", "relief" and "worm".

To construct the score, I took a selection of keywords and placed them in quotidian/ everyday speech sentences.

 

I then developed a register of vocal techniques that can be applied to the keywords used within the score, in an effort to render them intelligible to machines that listen, but still possible for human ears to discern.

Finally, I made a recording of the score and uploaded it to REDUCT, a video transcription service that uses a neural network to listen to videos and transcribe spoken words into text.

 

The resulting video is captioned with REDUCT's transcript, demonstrating instances of slippage, where the vocal techniques have managed to render the keywords unintelligible altogether, or where they have been misinterpreted as other words.