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BORDER LANGUAGES (in progress)


Spencer Topel, concept and design

Shannon Werle, cinematography and architecture 


David Schoenberger, linguistics 

Un collaboration avec David Schoenberger, l'Ensemble Meitar et le Centre Communautaire Juif-Arabe de Jaffa


Border Languages is an experimental video installation presenting over 60 homophones between Hebrew and Arabic. Visitors experience a film of two non-actor Jewish and Arab teenagers reciting the text presented on two floating frames suspended from the ceiling. Projections of faintly illuminated text on the walls around the frames provide a sense of focused immersion.  The corresponding Hebrew, Arabic, and English* words illuminate as each homophone pair are presented, providing translation and meaning, but also suggest distance, both in terms of cartographic and phonetic distances. In this context, tension between the sound, semantics, and representation of these words is particularly stark, since Hebrew and Arabic share a common ancestral language, and more-so in relief of broader cultural conflicts and differences.


The words were recited by non-actor Jewish and Arab teenagers filmed in Tel Aviv, Israel on July 6th of 2014.


*or other translated language (e.g. Français, Deutsch, etc.)


The following video is a shorter demo of the video content of the installation. In the final presentation of the work, the video will contain no subtitles, and will not be cropped, but rather projected on two (2),  1080 (H) x 720 (W) backlit projection custom screens. FOR REVIEW PURPOSES ONLY, DO NOT DISTRIBUTE. 




The following renderings (near and far) illustrate the layout and projection plan for Border Langauges. The floating panels consist of high-contrast rear projection custom films mounted on tension frames, and suspended from the ceiling on picture frame wire, and images are projected onto the screens from ports in the wall behind the frames. Three projectors mounted on the ceiling project faintly glowing text on the three walls around the frames, and the entire system is coordinated by three networked mac mini  computers and a commerical router.

PREVIOUS WORK (travaux antérieurs)

Border Languages builds upon a previous installation project named homophøn, work was previously shown in both the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts in Hanover, New Hampshire (U.S.) and in the Blågdesgaden Bibliotek in Copenhagen, Denmark. In this installation, visitors experienced recitiation of English and French homophones, presented on two flat-panel TV's facing one another. The following video documentation shows a short walkthrough of the work as exhibited in Hanover, NH during the Sound/Unsound Exhibition 2012. Cinematography and documentation by Alexander Stockton.

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