Andrew Sharpley – “Black Ships”
Monday 19 May 2014, 7pm
on DO or DIY with People Like Us
Listen online live at 7pm NY Time http://wfmu.org
This broadcast is a based on a series of translations and re-translations of a text in a not-very-good telephone translation app, going backwards and forwards between Japanese and Portuguese and at each stage rendering the result into english – kind of like Chinese Whispers, except not Chinese. Whats starts out as a tongue twister over the course of 30 re-translations (25 of which are used in the broadcast) ends up as something that sounds like a deranged terrorist, manifesto, talking of bomb blasts and prophets and visas and pain and country.
These short texts, read by my daughter Lia, are set against a backdrop of shifting electronic patterns and acoustic piano that mutates gradually over time as the texts themselves do.
The title, Black Ships (in Japanese, 黒船, kurofune, Edo Period term) was the name given to Western ships arriving in Japan in the 16th and 19th centuries.
In 1543 Portuguese initiated the first contacts, establishing a trade route linking Goa to Nagasaki. The large ships engaged in this trade had the hull painted black with pitch, and the term came to represent all western vessels. A modern day equivalent for the surprise and confusion the presence of these ships caused, would perhaps be someone in a modern city apartment trying to go to sleep with 4 big black flying saucers hovering outside their window…
With a nod of recognition to the WFMU presenter and exponent of ‘ uncreative writing’ – of which this is an example – I am dedicating it to Mr Kenneth Goldsmith.
– Andrew Sharpley, 16 May, 2014.