The Encounters Surrealist Web Chat

By Andrei Cucu

The Encounters Surrealist Web Chat is an experiment in verbal communication happening between languages and between people that transcends semantics. Starting from the idea of the exquisite corpse, the surrealist word game where participants need to continue a text without knowing what the preceding participant wrote, the project develops the idea further, each participant receiving a message in a language they don’t understand and replying in their mother tongue. Each participant was asked to reply in whatever way they see fit, as long as they use their native language. The resulting messages turned out to be an extremely exciting and eclectic mix of reactions, each showcasing the inflections, rhythms and acoustic idiosyncrasies of the respective languages, with a connection between each pair of message and response that was sometimes hard to identify, but also became clearer with each repeated listen. 

The process took place at the height of the Corona pandemic in Berlin, which on one hand made it more difficult to manage, but on the other turned it into an unexpected exercise in online interactions – during a time when questions of closeness, communication and human contact where so forcefully put into the foreground. 

As a prelude to and teaser for the performance project The Encounters Incomprehensible Reading Hour, which will hopefully take place soon, the surrealist web chat turned out to be a fascinating listening exercise – at least for me, who had an overview of all the submitted material as well as the privilege to create a composition from all these beautiful languages.

Special thanks go to Brooj, Laura, Xenia, Moji, Yannis, Alexandra, Mahtab, Réka and Zeynep for playing the game. The result can be heard here:

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