bani haykal

sifrmu invites users to entangle themselves within human-machine kinships. Entered plaintext is encrypted into ciphertext by a patch that simultaneously sends messages to an instrument to produce an audio output. Within this system, the QWERTY keyboard is used as interface, as skin, as “boundary [that] separates one area from another and yet at the same time belongs to both of them” (Keiji Nishitani). As a mediating surface, the QWERTY keyboard is an intersection of language, intimacy, and metabolic reproduction; its emotional, existential, and physical affinities with the human body is continually affirmed by fingers that slide across, press upon, and rest on them.

An interest in language is embedded in the very title of sifrmu, which is a portmanteau of “sifr” (Arabic for zero; the root word for cipher) and “mu” (Malay for you or yours), meaning “your cipher”. Encryption as a process can also be considered a twin or subset of translation, through which a series of signs are consumed, digested, and rebuilt, built differently. Language reproduces by eating itself.

Technology is very soft in sifrmu. While it forms the pathways of the system, it remains largely invisible, giving way instead to sentiment(ality), romance, and mutual response. A kinship is thus explicitly enacted to reveal a shared existence, a cyborg in which body and machine are tethered not through physical combination, but through repeated touch (gentle, yielding, sensual, longing, vulnerable, rigourous,...). 

This is our body now, and sifrmu invites us to see it, listen to it, touch it, feel it, feel it, feel it.


soft encountering soft producing heat, two bodies in friction
speaking words rippling body folding flesh, tongue overheard trilling
to itself metallic sounds of a wave encountering wave, fingers liquid with
the choreography of spelling, a chorus of machines learning to speak.
to read aloud the signs eating signs. to convey two sounds with one mouth.
metal not cold but in heat, in love, in confession, i encountering i
and touching my ears. finding them wet with desire.

[2:58 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: hey bani
[2:58 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: thanks for these! i hope you're feeling better ❤
[2:58 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: it's kinda odd but
[2:58 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: going over the documentation evoked a very emotional/ visceral response in my body
[2:58 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: i really love the work
[2:58 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: thank you for sharing
[2:59 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: also, you write beautifully
[4:49 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: yoo, hey thanks for sharing your response of the work!
[4:49 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: i’m happy to hear this!
[5:13 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: thank you for making something simultaneously
brain-broadening and heart-opening
[5:13 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: catch you soon hopefully!
[5:14 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: i am curious how it was both for you, how had it effected you?
[5:14 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: oh
[5:14 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: hahaha
[5:14 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: mmm
[5:14 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: it was oddly moving
[5:14 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: the combination of very warm, very human, very searching text
[5:15 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: with something i expected to be colder,
less human, less concerned about me
[5:15 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: it made me tear up actually
[5:15 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: nuuuuu
[5:15 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: the sound became quite poetic and meaningful as a result
[5:15 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: because of the emotional setup
[5:15 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: at least for me la
[5:15 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: hahahah
[5:15 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: it was beautiful and fascinating
[5:16 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: haha yea yea but i’m very surprised to hear this!
[5:16 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: the tech is not very accessible to me but i rly
liked watching your process
[5:16 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: it gave me a sense of your thought process
[5:16 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: i felt like i could see you as an artist
[5:16 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: you weren't hiding behind big words
[5:16 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: yea my goal and interest has always been to make
the tech bit “invisible” or not taking centre stage
[5:16 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: or difficult setup of relations
[5:16 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: mm!
[5:17 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: i can sometimes get frustrated by invisible tech
[5:17 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: but it works rly well here
[5:17 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: it sits right for me
[5:17 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: ya i dont like doing this haha
[5:17 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: thank uuu
[5:17 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: i  see i see! thats really good to know!
[5:17 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: have been in contact w some big word work
recently that kinda drove me crazy
[5:18 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: so this was a good reprieve and something more...feeling
[5:18 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: i'm curious
[5:18 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: what were you expecting the viewer/listener to feel
[5:18 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: or receive?
[5:18 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: right right..
[5:18 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: or were you just not sure?
[5:19 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: if anything i felt it was important for users to
feel how their machines are a part of them
[5:20 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: we have prosthetics which are part of us and
we should value them as part of our body
[5:21 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: ah
[5:21 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: i loved this:
[5:21 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: "the QWERTY keyboard is perhaps the only machine which knows our most intimate or deepest, darkest secrets.the keyboard as an intimate machine knows our passwords, what we spoke to our partners, what dreams and desires we have, how many different ways we want to murder our bosses or how badly we struggle to write a resignation letter without Grammarly.QWERTY is humanity’s medium to all digital spirits.it is a kinship we should treasure."
[5:21 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: its a weird mirror maybe, like the feedback isnt singular and immediate..? so just a state of knowing who we are.. acknowledge that we have extended beyond flesh
[5:22 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: not sure if i registered that intellectually, but the work definitely made the machine more human i feel
[5:22 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: it felt more like me
[5:22 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: and less cold
[5:22 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: yea yea! thats what is important to me
[5:22 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: mm yes
[5:22 PM, 12/23/2019] kia yee: very very cool
[5:22 PM, 12/23/2019] bani haykal: we are hybrids or in that Haraway-ian sense, a cyborg


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