To read a book, 2018
Braille music box, paper stripes with punched holes, ink markings on papers, painted wooden frame

Photo: Chihiro Yoshikura

Installation view at Words Unsaid, Then Forgotten at 3331 Arts Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan

From text to music ;
From one language system (Braille) to another (musical alphabets) ;
From tangible object (book) to intangible experience (audio) ;
From visual to tactile sensation ;
From curiousity to impatience.

When is my last time completing and truly understanding (a page of) a book? How much do we actually take in or understand when we read or listen?  How language actually functions?

The work commenced with a page of a book (by Haruki Murakami) to a body of components addressing the questions.

With the manufactured music box, it functions almost equivilant to Braille texts : sounds are generated through holes (negative space) while the latter works with embossed dots (positive space). Both are tactile sensation of a similar visual presentation.

By alternating the existing Braille alphabetic writing system from 1 single line to 2 columns, I attempted to create a competely new language system.
Following this Braille-inspired music box alphabets, I translated one page from the book of Haruki Murakami into 6 sheets of “music scores” that can be further “read” by the music box. Carefully punching holes from the corresponding alphabets, the 6 sheets of “text” were transferred onto a long paper stripe that can be inserted into the music box to create sound.

Visitors are invited to “read” the text, fast or slow on their preference, to encounter a brand new “reading” experience. Viewers are also encouraged to translate and reveal the actual texts written on the music scores with the “dictionary” adjacent to it. The phenomena that most people would not be patient and persistent enough to finish reading a book in one go can as well be reflected through this simple but challenging exercise.

©Serene Hui 2023