Coming to the end of the residency means thinking about the route I’ve taken and the divergence and alternative pathways I’ve followed. Connecting to the other residency artists, – two of whom are based on other continents – brought me into contact with other creative ways of looking and thinking, and in turn encouraged me to create work that attempts to explain itself.

Originally, I had been thinking more about sound effect captioning, typographic dummy text, and AI transcription, playing with the out-of-context commonalities. When I began my research, I looked at Dr Rachael Tatman’s articles around computational sociolinguistics. Dr Tatman’s work has included research on linguistic aspects of signed languages, so as a late-deafened BSL user who moves along the communication spectrum of lipreading, SSE and BSL, her writing really resonated with my thinking.

But what struck me was the similarities of error in AI, typographic and compositing errors, and lipreading. There was a clear inter-relationship, rather than being disparate strands I was bashing together. This lead me back to the 1986 RNID book “Lipreading – A Guide for Beginners”, and while re-reading the text, it occurred to me that the guidance images would be particularly pointless for anyone deafened in 2020 as mask use became common (I became deaf in 1986). To create the guidance images with an added mask, I used a puppet warp tool to synchronize the mask distortion to the facial patterns demonstrated, but the outcomes show the impossibility of using lipreading alone as a communication method in 2020. In turn this steered me back to AI transcription (which I often use as a notetaking backup in online meetings, where I’m watching BSL interpreters, and it’s impossible to make legible notes). Again, I wanted to show that what is often posited as a communication “solution”, can create a whole new variety of confusion.  To bring this back to the print side of my thinking, I picked out an incomprehensible sentence from a work meeting, and used proofreaders marks to correct it, although unless you’re familiar with these marks, you won’t know the “answer” (which took me three days to work out). It’s designed to show the intense mental concentration required to decipher even throw away remarks. 

The images resulting from the research were then printed as duotone risograph images, so that I have both actual and virtual prints. Creating web-based work from these physical prints – themselves created using digital programs – means I’ve been able to play with some new approaches to the digital/physical intersect.  Special thanks to The Old Waterworks for access to their print space and risograph to create the prints.

The residency has also made me think about future research possibilities; inevitably more exploration along the current road, but also going back to sound effect captioning and dummy text. And the potential for linking this work to other communication distortions that have fascinated me for a long time, (namely ghost singers, which also connects to lipreading and lipspeaking). 

A small glossary

SSE – Sign Supported English. This is communication system that borrows BSL signs but uses English Language grammar systems. It’s not a true language, but for late deafened people like myself can be a bridge between visual and spoken languages.

BSL – British Sign Language. This is a true language with its own grammatical structure and syntax. It is not dependant on or strongly related to spoken English. A native BSL user will have command of the language in a way I can only aspire to. 

Computational sociolinguistics – here’s an explanation written by Dr Tatman

Dummy text – This is text used in the print and design industries to occupy the space which will later be filled with ‘real’ content. It meant you could see how a page would look using a particular typeface, size of headline and so on.  Because it is intended to support visual decision making, the text itself is often incomprehensible. The most well-known dummy text is Lorem Ipsum (

Ghost singers – These were (usually uncredited) professional singers who provided the voice for many (non-singing) actresses in Hollywood musicals. I’m particularly fascinated by the multiple layers of deception in “Singin’ in The Rain” which outed ghost singing, but also dubbed the actresses in the movie (both singing and speaking). 

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