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MFA Fine Art

Tristan Bridge

Tlon Language

Tlon Language is a mail art project that seeks to investigate multilingualism within online video game communities. These communities serve as hubs for language mixing due to the vocabularies that players bring with them from the outside world in addition to the in-game ways of communicating that have come about against the rules of the space. For example, in World of Warcraft, there are two factions: horde and alliance. When communicating with a player who belongs to the opposite faction, you must use your character’s avatar in order to bridge the language gap. You must be overly expressive and use your body much as you would in real life in order to be understood. In many ways, my interactions within this community are reminiscent of growing up in a household where the languages of my grandparents were constantly mixed and blending with that of my own and my siblings.  

Over the course of several months, the individuals who are situated in this multilingual environment within World of Warcraft have been invited to make a contribution through the in-game mail system. These residents are encouraged to utilize Google Translate on real-life text in order to fragment and render supple the language. Their submissions are subsequently documented and archived. Through such contributions, this project seeks to reflect on the language mixing that occurs within digital communities and inspire further creolization. In this way, the inhabitants of these online hubs are invited to think critically about the languages that surround them- both online and in real life.