“Picture a music box in front of you”

+ 13 Riddles (digital image, 4.02”X6.93”) , single-channel instruction video (45m 18s, 3D-generated video, (the box in the video: 5.3”X3.9”X6.1”), scores of the 13 Riddles, recorded in a music box (45m 18s), and your participation, 2020

+ This piece strongly encourages you to play the audio below and the video of the box at the same time.


    “Picture a music box in front of you” is a virtual installation work that germinates its viewers’ active imagination as a participatory (isolated) performance. It consists of a body of music tracks, a single-channel looped video of an image of an instructive box that rotates, and a text work of 13 riddles originally written in English. Above all, as the most foregrounding component of this work, the audio tracks correspond with the written riddles that are spoken by both me as a non-native speaker and digitized utterances on one of the biggest online dictionaries; these considerably “allegedly perfect” utterances represent that of all native English speakers, and they are visually shown for English learners as guidance to pronounce English words “correctly”. The graphic gaps generated from the visual juxtapositions have transformed into the musical notes punctured on the music note sheets and then recorded as a successive series of music songs - alternative yet resonating “languages”. Therefore, the conception of translation between multiple “humans” languages can be subverted for further solidarity rooted in other alternatives of communication. Along with the music playing on one side of the virtual realm, the viewers would read an image of the riddles begin with “What Am I?”, asking the audience to guess the identity of this person or group of people that “erase my [his/her] tongue” and “individuate one’s own liberation” (extracted from the riddles) in the end, as a medium of a collective quiz.

+ Bibliography

Chow, Rey. Not like a Native Speaker: on Languaging as a Postcolonial Experience. Columbia University Press, 2014.
Mirene Arsanios. “E Autobiography Di Un Idioma.” e, www.e-flux.com/journal/92/204493/e-autobiography-di-un-idioma/.
Norman, Susan, and Robin Baratz. “Understanding Aphasia.” The American Journal of Nursing, vol. 79, no. 12, 1979, p. 2135., doi:10.2307/3469874.
Yi Yun Li, To Speak Is to Blunder | The New Yorker. www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/02/to-speak-is-to-blunder.