Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Captcha! Story

A short story that makes rather fun use of the random Captcha words that we often see online.

Captcha from Gabrielle de Vietri on Vimeo.

Via The Dish.

Listening to the story and watching the Captcha images (to confirm the nonsense word is actually a nonsense Captcha-generated word), it's interesting to cogitate upon the "flavor" of the word - how the author uses these words to so perfectly color and enliven the text of the story. Just like Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky," this one makes good synaesthetic use of the words to convey the feeling of what things are:
The redlemutes shuffled along silently. The mouthless creatures had no language, but desmodowe could tell they were sending vibes to each other in conspeali. He knew that if they conspealed too loud, they would awake the terrible manackboar, who would be sent into a frenzy by the rustiant scrape of the acithidoid's frequency, but that was the least of their worries..."
Lines like this - although lacking the tradition that time imparts to resilient works of art - are so much like those found in Carroll's poem:
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Linking this to Synaesthesia
All this reminds me of the lessons that I learned waaay back in undergrad basic psychology about the fact that we all share some basic level of synaesthesia (yes, I'm using the British spelling, since that's how I learned it in the first place, and my fingers prefer to spell it that way on the keyboard).

We find it easy to read a colored word when the word and the color match:


but difficult when it's colored a different color than the word


We also share the "Bouba/Kiki Effect" in which people are given the nonsense names "Bouba" and "Kiki" (apologies to anyone names Bouba and Kiki) and told to assign the names to two blobs, one of which is angular and one that is rounded:
Even cross-culturally (based on a 2001 study between American and Tamil college students), almost all assigned "Kiki" to the angular blob and "Bouba" to the rounded blog.

While I don't know what a manackboar looks like, the fact that it's colored blue makes me think of a manackboar that has not yet become frenzied (since I associate blue with calm). Analogously, the term conspeali, being written in bold red makes me think that it's somehow dangerous (since I also associate red with danger). In short, watching the story play out with the colors and nonsense words in context makes this story (and this is only the first chapter) an interesting one for the senses.

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