News Hiccups

2022, Single-Channel Video 

News Hiccups is a fragmented composition of text and sound that uses irony and parallels itself with the involuntary contractions of the diaphragm we call hiccups. The work responds to itself, specifically, it responds to an audio clip from ‘ABC News’ about former Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, who recently faced numerous charges of sexual assault from female personnel. The piece from ‘ABC News’ reports one of these assaults in March 2021. This is used as paradigm and source of discomfort, violence, and introspection rather than a comment of whether Andrew Cuomo is guilty of said charges or not.

There are two sources of discomfort here. The first, is on the basis of sexual assault as a form of violence. The second, refers to how a personal experience of assault becomes ‘breaking news’, story, spectacle. The troubling question is this: as viewers, do we watch in true shock and terror, or do we watch with a manner imbued with secret pleasure, which is also a form of violence? Faced with both kinds of violence the voices in News Hiccups break into ‘hiccups’. The drum riff that complements the voices underline the element of pleasure that remains hidden.

The rolling text that appears in the video is the translation of the broken voice by an online voice-to-text translation machine, slightly manipulated. As in similar programs, the translation machine presupposes sense in the text, and takes what is broken as standard. It translates the words that are ‘heard’ (the rest is sound) while guessing what these words would most likely be. It is the instrumental ‘voice’, in the form of text, of a ‘sense’ that makes no sense at all: the absurd outcome of the translation communicates this absurdity.