“Acts in Translation” is an easily operable and relatively new unique installation piece by media artist, creative director, and educator Dalena Tran. The piece was published in 2020 and contains a combination of moving imagery and a multitude of sound clips from all over the world and is categorized with the words generative, HD video, sound and online. It’s a lengthy piece with distinct recordings that play every hour. Tran invites her viewers to sit and listen to ambient sounds and voices speaking or they can return each hour for the main events. The piece has a large sample size collected from thirty-seven different countries creating the diverse background noises and a total of eight recordings of the main stories. During the main recordings an individual recounts their story of a broken heart. This piece creates a very intimate experience as the individual shares personal details of moments in their lives.
Tran’s piece was born-digitally and you must own a device to observe this piece. She takes a different approach to the typical online art pieces with no ability to fast forward or rewind the audience must simply sit back and wait for the next clip to play, allowing the audience to really take in the stories. The piece would be considered kinetic, as the viewer only has to click one button and the performance begins with no navigation required, but is slightly different from kinetic literature as it is an audio instead of text.
The piece contains unique but familiar sounds to most of our day to day lives including birds chirping, car horns or sirens, and families disputing. The imagery contains a building with two windows. In one there is a curtain slowly blowing in the wind and in the other flickering lights with contrast between stillness and movement as the rest of the background is still.
Tran’s message of “complexity of language and culture.” is perfectly displayed as the noises transport you to all different places. When the audience is patient and listens to the entire piece start to finish it can create quite the rewarding feeling of achievement, unlike how we often treat media pieces like a race to finish. This piece is easily accessible on multiple platforms using a phone, laptop or tablet and is free of cost to all who can access sound and image on their devices. This media piece can be found on Digital America , Near rest, Dalena.me, The New River.
The reviews for this piece are very minimal, likely due to the fact that it was posted quite recently but there is one lengthy review linked on Digital America by Ali Mills student at Richmond University studying Art History and Visual Arts. Her commentary states the piece is unique and auditory stimulating and that it creates an experience unlike many others as it doesn’t reward the audience with instant gratification. She also adds the detail that every visit to her site is unique and randomly generated meaning “There are two-thousand nine-hundred and sixty possible recording combinations of paired cities that a viewer might experience”. Mills explains after observing the piece that it is authentic and changes our ideas about culture.
The piece is centered around how we often face disconnection from reality and live through our online media. Acts in Translation was created with hopes that the viewer will be more aware of all the different peoples stories that are constantly taking place around us and the different cultures. The piece was published in 2020 due to the major disconnection between people because of covid 19 protocols. Tran wanted to bring everyone together and give them an experience of connection with different countries that they couldn’t experience themselves. The sounds allow the listener to have a real insight on conversations and communications between people to show our differences but also our many similarities as Tran states on The New River the media art piece is trying to display the “complexity of language and culture”.