DaVid DiVizio is a Canadian artist with a penchant for originality that’s as striking as it’s unintended. Or intended. DiVizio facilitates a bizarre ability to encompass both. He has queried President Bush's words with a Personal Digital Assistent.
He’s named this device Ana and is practically married to this 'lady'.
DiVizio and Ana have performed shows in Canada, Japan, France and America. DiVizio writes words and phrases on Ana’s screen, captures them and re-processes them on a stock Optical Character Recognition (OCR) program that turns the letters into fonted print text. Ana has a vocabulary of about 100,000 words and it automatically tries to match all words and phrases that DiVizio jots down. The fun part is that if no match is available, Ana will try and interpret the word letter by letter. This is why she frequently throws out non related words, potential words or possible neologisms.
DiVizio exhibits his interactions with Ana as a developing "art of communication", as opposed to a “communication of art". He began writing backwards on Ana’s screen because his mentor, Dr. Hironobu Oikawa of Japanese Butoh renown, told him that his near name sake Leonardo DaVinci frequently wrote in backward script to make contact with another dimension. “Oikawa told me DaVinci wrote backwards to see across time. DaVinci was reading between the lines and spaces”, DiVizio says.
When DiVizio decided to try it, his first word ‘love~’ miraculously was matched to ‘ARCO warn’, a phrase that implies a temporal engagement. DiVizio was mesmerized. He stuck to the backwards method ever since because he believes time is transcended in the engagement. Now he’s processing whatever comes his way and he believes that he’s frequently unearthing a potential fourth dimension. DiVizio agreed to query Ana with a bunch of written words from the newspapers. The Washington Post provided the perfect fodder. Last Thursday, this paper reprinted extracts from a leaked transcript detailing President Bush’s private thoughts in the weeks before the US invaded Iraq. The memo was leaked to Spanish daily El Pais and it outlines what was said during a meeting in 2003 between President Bush and his Spanish counterpart then Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.
It is a case of President Bush gloriously speaking his mind during a planning session for the final diplomatic round of negotiations at the United Nations prior to the Iraq invasion. In addition to comparing the UN’s cautions against the War on Terror with Chinese water torture, he told a jittery Aznar that if a UN majority supported the war it would be "the best solution for us" and that it "would also save us $50 billion." He also said that US troops would be “in Baghdad at the end of March." The $50 billion was the estimate at the time of what the war on Terror was going to cost, a much lower sum than the current bill, which has run up to $450 billion. The memo is brilliant material for Ana. It reveals a level of confidential information that journalists pursue all the time but seldom get. The words were not directed at the public at large, and that offers a new angle we all find terribly interesting. When words inadvertently spoken by the high and mighty are disseminated to the world, they offer the illusion of objectivity.
Where the least meaning is intended, people somehow expect to find it most. In this light, the water torture phrase is definitely the sort of material to subject to further ‘Ana-bolic’ investigation. The memo has sparked controversy, yet it remains to be seen if it reveals any useful legal grounds for impeachment. After all, Bush was talking to the Spanish Prime Minister, head of a UN member state that was totally opposed to the war, so it is very unlikely that he would have been speaking 100% truthfully. There must be way more interesting memos around than this one. Ones that involve only US government people. I am curious to find out what the thinking was on possible international law violations by the US going it alone. Issues like that must have been discussed. Ana’s interpretations of ‘inadvertently’ spoken words simply invites you to assign meaning where there’s possibly no meaning at all.
That is because the messages she comes up with appear to come from the same ‘inadvertent’ quadrants. All the same, if named, this exercise would no doubt be known as something like ‘Operation Woeful Integrity’. Or “Operation Beneath The Bush” or some such desertion. It turns out the water tortured president, proves kind of difficult to trace. But Ana’s processing of ‘George’s Water Torture’ leads to a few jumbled up words and phrases; ‘irritat retou igoogo’, ‘embat retires yeast’, ‘embat atom igoago’, ‘oratod siting Yorgoy’. For all the meaning that might be assigned to this excercise, you could say that Ana shows possibly the President’s subconscious was being attached to the military settings it at that time could have little idea about their eventual veracity. It could be a fair assumption. DiVizio, convinced there was more to it, double queried the reverse written word "torture", which Ana put out as "oratod".
When DiVizio queried the word ‘oratod?’ with the question mark in tact, Ana churned out this string; '7 Botan', '1 Baton', '7Butora', 'Rbatoso'. The numerics in the output are the result of Ana’s reading of the question mark. DiVizio says that he has encountered the word oratod recently in a completely different context too. He doesn’t immediately grasp this and resorts to another technique. “This is the poetry part”, he adds. “Ana comments, I amplify. Or better, she amplifies my mind. With the article in the back of my mind I had a sense of what to inquire about.” Reducing "Yorgoy" to the more familiar Yurgy, DiVizio’s mind resonates a kind of Anabolic language and he writes down spontaneously, in backwards, cursive handwriting "Aweright Yurgy. Half it yure way then." Ana does not recognize some of the words and presents "Aweigh Yurgy. Half it you wag then". DiVizio has seen more spectacular outcomes, he says. “It would be so nice if I could get her to present that much precision out of my simply writing backwards. Sometimes she's syntactical, but that's exceptional”, he says. DiVizio adds that the stochastic part of the process is what is so addictive to him. His Ana investigations are not scientific. If that were the case, he says he’d have become a gazillionaire by now. Some of DiVizio’s other ‘exploits’ are no less than mouthwatering.
The story of his reading Umberto Eco´s book Foucoult’s Pendulum perhaps best typifies just how DiVizio ‘relates’ to Ana on a day to day basis. “I was in Montreal for a performance festival, and found a hard copy [of Foucault’s Pendulum] in a used book store. I bought it, having never heard of it before, but knowing that Eco´s the third in the trilogy of Saussure/Pearce/Eco Linguistics/Semiotics”, DiVizio remembers. “I was travelling by bus when I started to read it. On page 2, Eco writes of Fantasy and Fantastic places. The names Samoa and Avalon appear in two lines, one above the other. Both of those names were stochastically generated by Ana in the weeks leading up to my reading them in Eco's book”, he says. He started querying Ana by processing mirror readable script from that point. Soon she churned out the words Mona Lisa. “When I looked up, the businessman sitting directly in front of me had the Globe and Mail spread open and held up before him a full page image of the Mona Lisa! Now that was exhilarating.” The event inspired him to publish Ana’s readings of Foucault’s Pendulum. Soon he had accumulated 350 files in which Ana processed unknown vocabulary. “Let me say, I didn't read it in your usual way. My reading or the Pendulum was like reading it from the inside out”, he says. He published Ana’s ‘Pendulum readings’ files online on one of his many blogs: http://anafoucault.blogspot.com/. He’s also on YouTube, where he's uploaded a video showing him in action.