What happens when an input, as delicate as language, is forced through multiple algorithms? What is lost? What is distorted? I have a dream. He lived in the past, but thanks. explores these questions by feeding a source text, Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech, into the first language in Google Translate (Afrikaans), then back to English. The new English version becomes the source text for the next translation. This pattern is repeated sixty-five times, using each available language in alphabetical order. The book is comprised of only the English translations, allowing the reader to see the algorithmic erosion throughout the process.
By the end, the text has changed drastically. The last line of the original speech reads, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” but, half way through the text it reads, “…God and the city of all, psychological black free , in social, ‘I am the Lord God that is not the end,” and by the end reads, “God and the unity of the city, he said. He lived in the past, but thanks.”
This work is part of my MFA thesis, Playing Outside.