Oh my ( )
“Oh my ( )” is an installation that calls god in 48 languages using Twitter database. The machine monitors Twitter timeline in real time and when a tweeted text includes a word, god, speakers sound “oh my ( god in the tweeted language )” at the same time. The list of accessed 48 languages are following.
“god” is a symbolic word that indicates cultural complexity and dynamism. Although correspond words can be found in the dictionary between two languages, this doesn’t mean that they are 100 percent exchangeable. Allah in Arabic is neither god in English and Dutch nor אלוהים in Hebrew nor 神 in Chinese and Japanese nor Бог in Russian and Serbian nor परमेश्वर in Hindi. And the problem is that one cannot always notice this sort of complexity as long as you read a translated word, even if these words might have different contents or certain implications. And this word could depict, which religion native speakers commonly have, whether it’s monotheism, to which cultural area they belong, from which countries they were concurred in the history etc. For example, in Malta the dominant religion is Catholicism though, in Maltese god is called “Alla”.
In last almost thousand years Malta has been colonized by European countries, Spain, Italy, France and Britain, but before that time, Arabic people governed Malta in the Medieval Ages, and their cultural influences still remain in their language (by the way, Arab Christian calls god الله(Allah) as well).
An aspect of the form of the language like sound and letter is not really focused on, as long as you make your home in a single area. Now that our world is connected through the internet though, these diverse forms are not really exposed. It’s just because one tend to search the information in one language.(I don’t even know how to type some languages on my keyboard.) So in the very practical manner, the limits of my language are limits of my world. To extract this potential diversity on the internet is one of the aims of this project.
In the myth of “Tower of Babel”, human’s speech is confounded by god as a punishment, and it can be said that god is called with a different word because of that. If god had understood subsequent massive effect at this moment, the course of the history, which is full of religious conflicts, you might say that his punishment was really heavy. This machine simulates the imaginary initial condition in this story, that is to say, they call god in their own languages.
There are tremendous amounts of data, which the machine fetches from Twitter database. Some Speakers call their own god every single second, but what I can do is merely to distinguish which speaker is loud. It’s possible to analyze the information on the internet with computer, but it’s not easy to physically observe every single voice of people. And if you got this complexity, would it mean that you can be more democratic?