Mary Flanagan & Andrew Gerngross


[ineffable] is a computer application which reads aggregated emails between two correspondents and maps the use of language through the words users utilize in everyday correspondence. The project explores the question, Do we have particular “voice” in our daily writing to friends and colleagues, and does that voice change depending on who we are writing to and why? Collaborators Mary Flanagan and Andrew Gerngross work to bring into the foreground the primary form of exchange practiced by many technology users — email — through closely examining the use of language in email systems. Email is used for work and play, intimate exchange and legal agreements. How are different kinds of language, and thus sounds, used in correspondences with different people? How do we \”sound\” to those reading our emails, and how does the email of others sound to us? Words, phrases, and sentences represent a time, a person, a map of interpersonal experiences (the external world) as well the way a user relates to the context of digital communication — and relationship of that person to their own computer. This project maps the geography of these relationships with sound and image. The [ineffable] program explores the relationship between real people through their written messages to one another, but further, the work generates a set of procedures which expose how our everyday experiences with email encode the kinds of sounds we make, our \”voices,\” into our digital systems. Much More documentation is available on the web site, including video. **For exhibition I can provide a laptop, projector, + speakers on which to run the work.

Mary Flanagan is an inventor-designer-activist in New York City and leads the Tiltfactor research group at Hunter College in New York City. Flanagan’s artwork has been shown internationally at venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art, SIGGRAPH, Ars Electronica, the Guggenheim, and other international venues. Her essays on digital art and gaming have appeared in many periodicals and books including Art Journal and Wide Angle. Her books include Reload: Rethinking Women + Cyberculture (MIT Press 2002), the co-written book Similitudini. Simboli. Simulacri (SIMilarities, Symbols, Simulacra) in Italian (Unicopli, 2003), and reskin (forthcoming, MIT Press). She is the creator of “The Adventures of Josie True,” the first internet adventure game for girls, and is co-founder of Rapunsel, a research project to teach girls programming (