1. M Oginz

    Hi B. Great work.

    Should the Q&A portion of the “app” be on a more portable platform like Twitter?

    Not a bad idea. It might be worth playing with. This is the part of the project I’m most unclear on. So a bot essentially answers your statements or queries? In text? So in that case, a Twitter bot would send the phone number, rather than it appearing on the webpage? From there, would your video be posted on Twitter, rather than appear on a webpage? I think people might be more likely to use it from Twitter, so it’s a good idea if that’s what you’re going for.

    Would you use this application when it’s working?

    I would, though if I’m attempting to be objective, the idea of calling a phone number might discourage me slightly.

    I incorporated MLK’s voice in a sample I made earlier because of its religious undertones (clip above). Thoughts?’

    It works and sounds moving. I’m guessing it will be one of many inputs, as you lay out here.

    • Behrang Garakani


      >> Twitter
      Yes, for all those points. However, the phone number isn’t unique and will get trickier if there are multiple callers.
      Yes, move the entire interface to Twitter and leave the web portal as more of a description of the project and an archive.

      >> Phone calls
      Thanks for the honest feedback. I doubt I’ll make the phone call required (or even get it to work with many users calling). I like the idea of giving players a way to give some of themselves to the project. Personalize it. Player voices could be the strangest part of it, but the strangest parts are usually the most interesting.
      Could you pinpoint what’s discouraging about calling on the phone? Is it the act of dialing a phone number or voice recording? Why?

      >> MLK sample
      As I was writing, I saw RL’s feedback. He’s absolutely correct here. So, only the player’s voice for now.

  2. admin

    Fascinating stuff. I’m going to leave the technical aspects here to Behrang.
    I do think this would work better as some sort of chat app (whether mobile or not) rather than as an actual phone call, which I think would put off a number of people. If voice audio is important, that could be incorporated in an app, but it seems more workable if people can type in their information. Does anyone younger than 30 actually make voice calls? Isn’t it all messaging? (Hopefully, I am not falling into a mere stereotype about Gen Z and Millennials here.)
    The devotion to technology or the religion of technology is certainly a good target for critique. (Here, I would almost hope that there could be a short reference to the computerized “prayer booths” in THX 1138.), but I’m unclear if the resulting films would reflect this in their content? Or only in their presentation? And does this project intend to invoke both the pitfalls of excessive devotion to technology while at the same time showing the resulting films as hauntingly beautiful? I think that there may be contradictory (or paradoxical?) impulses here, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But those may be worth thinking about more.

    I am also wondering if the films generated from these interactions will be essay films, or poetic essay films, etc.? I think probably so, and maybe it wouldn’t be a bad to mention that somewhere.

    Finally, I will note that the use of MLK’s voice here could provoke some pushback for removing it from the historical context of civil rights and racial issues; i.e., it could be argued that highlighting only its religious “overtones” (obvious as they are) serves as an erasure or neutralization of its political implications (this is very similar to Barthes’s now ancient point about “myth” in Mythologies). Today, I could imagine an argument that this is appropriating King’s legacy for other purposes, although I’m not saying that is the intent here. Of course, cultural appropriation is a complicated issue, that I won’t try to debate here in the comments section.

  3. M Salmassi

    As I was reading through the site, it occurred to me that I am never ready. I will never have a chance to take an imaginary tour through an algorithm. Yet, I am familiar with the concept of this site. Okay. I can follow the logic of the text but how does that relate to rates and the initial image? Computer searches for antonyms not synonyms? Could contents of this site be related to positive and negative imagery of photography?

  4. A Smith

    I highly value the efforts you’ve put into this poetic presentation and the actual algorithm, which is quit impressive. I agree with the above comments that the majority would prefer text, but on the other hand, there is always something nerve-racking, yet exciting when I make a call, even the most insignificant. I don’t know. It could be the fact that the voice is so powerful and intimate, and I can’t see the other party.

    I like the idea of making people use an obsessive app like Twitter to create these videos. But I also had the same thought as Randy asking about the pitfalls of excessive devotion to technology/resulting films being hauntingly beautiful. I’m also a little confused as to how you will create an app out of this. Will each video be posted on the respected user’s account? Or some other? Will they be able to download them?

    And yes, MLK could be tricky to contextually get right.

  5. L Arango

    Hi Behrang,

    I think your ideas are great. I really liked the working example. If I were to take this project one notch up, I would allow the user to give parameters such as speed rate and clip length so that they too can experience “what works for them”, but I think the project as is is extraordinary.

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