project image
Maciej Toporowicz

first performed on June 22, 2012
Tribes Gallery, New York, NY
performed once in 2012


New York, NY


The idea of the performance came from an invitation to the event in which writers read their own works accompanied by a slide show. Each participant was asked to bring a text work with a set of images. Performances were to take no longer than ten minutes, and the general theme was “surreal.”

As my work is multimedia performance art, I don’t write or use my voice. I decided to do a performance entitled “Reading” and avoid the actual reading.

The first thing done on my computer was the slide show. I used a collection of images that I have of pure nonsense and things that are funny or weird, like street signs that have double meaning in two languages. I was able to find them in a few countries. I allocated one second for each slide. The show was looped and images repeated.

I decided to work with a text that doesn’t have much meaning, but was intelligible. I used the “lorem ipsum” description text from samples of webpages and word processing documents. It is a spaceholder or filler in Latin and has some irrelevant meaning. I combined a few of these texts in a long paragraph.

Then, I used text-to-speech-recognition software, which reads in English. The text was in Latin and the computer read it in English. It didn’t make sense in either Latin nor English. The computer read the text with synthetic male voice. I hijacked the sound with another piece of software and recorded it, making sure it ended in ten minutes.

I wanted the program to let both me and the audience know when each of the ten minutes ended and when the full ten minutes were up. I recorded numbers read with a female voice and added the beep of a busy telephone line to each one. Afterward, I combined all components in iMovie as a QuickTime movie.

As the theme of the event had to do with writing, my closest association with it was a book. I decided to rip pages from it, crumpling the paper and throwing it to the floor. The book I used was about writing: the Merriam-Webster Pocket Dictionary of Synonyms.

All of the requirements of the event are fulfilled at this point. Now I just need to press the start button.