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Searle's Room

  • installation view
  • detail, My Child is a Science Experiment
  • detail, speech systems
  • detail, drawing recorder and playback machine
  • detail, child drawing database
  • detail, child drawing
  • detail, machine drawing
Searle's Room, speech and drawing system, Robert Twomey (2013)

This project reimagines John Searle’s Chinese Room as a surreal encounter between a synthetic child voice and a robotic drawing machine. Within the installation, computational processes create continuous cycles of translation between computer speech and machine writing, each system trying to communicate with the other. I trade the logic of Searle’s lookup tables and symbolic manipulations for the emotional affect of a child trying to be understood. Treating children’s speech and writing as proto-languages—evocative but not-quite-intelligible—I explore liminal modes of prelinguistic communication. With absent hands and absent bodies, my Room conjures a poetics of loss.


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