A portrait of US linguistic diversity, in sound and sign

By Sophie Haigney

Kweti, dwa, tatlo, four.

This is how one version of the generative artwork “A Counting” begins: different voices each saying a number in a multiplicity of languages — in this case, Lenape, Polish, Tagalog and English — creating a kind of chorus counting to 100.

Produced by the artist Ekene Ijeoma and his group Poetic Justice at MIT Media Lab, “A Counting” is an ongoing participatory project that invites people to call in and record themselves counting to 100. These recordings are made into sound and video portraits, with city-specific editions for New YorkHoustonOmaha and St. Louis, so far, as well as a national version.

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