Totem explores language as an act of power and force of control. Drawing inspiration from surveillance culture, artificial intelligence techniques and the research of Julian Jaynes on the origin of consciousness, Totem assumes the form of a ritual icon, eavesdropping on the conversation in its vicinity.

Drawing only on patterns of sound in its immediate environment Totem defines its own language: a grammar and lexicon based on machine intuition, an inductive bias that shapes what is heard. Divorced from their original context words assume new character, meaning and intentionality. Totem transforms overheard conversation and incidental noises into a constantly evolving composition of sound.

Totem was made possible by generous contributions from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and the support of Issue Project Room.