by Pip Thornton & Ray Interactive
Newspeak (2019) visualises the words of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Fouras if they were commodities on a stock exchange. Using live data scraped from Google Ads, the text of the book scrolls across the screen as ticker-tape. The fluctuating prices of the words are determined by what they are worth to Google in the context of an advert.
The project is a political critique of the power held by technology companies as mediators of information in an age of linguistic capitalism. Evoking Orwell’s vision of Newspeak as a language that “could only be used for one purpose”, the project suggests that in a digital age, language is controlled and restricted by economic incentives, with similarly dystopian political consequences.
What do you (double)think of the value of language in this dystopian linguistic market?
Nineteen Eighty-Four copyright © the estate of the late Sonia Brownell Orwell, by permission of A M Heath & Co Ltd.