Individual Work
If I wrote you a love letter would you write back? (and thousands of other questions.)

The full title is “If I wrote you a love letter would you write back? (and thousands of other questions.) “A Thousand Questions” was created by Winnie Soon and Helen Pritchard. It was first commissioned at the Microwave International New Media Arts Festival 2012 in Hong Kong. It was an exhibit that provided listeners with an endless set of unanswered queries programmed to be pulled from Twitter using the keyword search “?” The idea was derived from the 1950s when love letters started appearing at Manchester University’s Computer Department’s

In the exhibit, listeners are encouraged to put on headphones and become immersed in the live time questions flowing through the headsets. It touches on the idea of the human inhumane poetics using both computerized and human writings. Questions are pulled from Twitter using the key character “?” They are then programmed to be put into a continuous flow of questions then presented through a computerized voice. These human written questions published originally to a social media platform are then manipulated and generated into one loop.

There are thousands of questions and the order in which they stream through the headsets is unique to the twenty-one listeners the exhibit allows for. It’s medium is installation. The visual-audio installation piece collects tweets and transcribes them into questions and characters.

Author statement: 
In collaboration with Helen Pritchard In this work the network asks “If I wrote you a love letter would you write back?” Like the love letters which appeared mysteriously on the noticeboards of Manchester University’s Computer Department in the 1950s, thousands of texts circulate as computational processes perform the questions (perhaps as an expanded Turing test) on its listeners. These questions are extracted in real-time from Twitter with the keyword search of the ‘?’ symbol to create a spatio-temporal experience. The computerized voice the audience hears is a collective one, an entanglement of humans and non-humans, that circulates across networks. The visual-audio installation piece If I wrote you a love letter would you write back? uses procedural translation to collect discourse from Twitter and translate it into spoken words as well as unreadable characters. Tweets are queried from the live web based on the presence of the “?” character, which renders the search an at-times poignant record of questions that might otherwise go unheard and unanswered on Twitter’s broadcast network. The poetics of the piece thus combine human-generated language and computer-generated characters and words, rendering the human inhuman through the process of text and audio translation while removing the questions from their original context and conversations. As an installation, the piece engulfs the viewers in an endless set of unanswered queries.