Composed of hundreds of short instructional videos designed to show non-native English speakers how to pronounce certain words in American English, Pronunciation Book received roughly 80 million views.
The piece gradually got attention in media as the focus of articles and parodies. The simple visual presentation and concept (san serif text, black on white) became recognizable across internet culture. It was called dumb, helpful, worthless, efficient, and inscrutable.
While it was certainly all of these things, Pronunciation Book was also an invisible narrative. The words chosen, and the occasional example sentences spoken by the unseen narrator, made up a fragmented story. The piece grew modestly in coherence toward the end, as it entered a "countdown", signifying a gradual awakening of the narrator character.
By telling a story one word or phrase at a time over the course of 42 months, and by using the most banal and innocent medium (video spam), we sought to force the reevaluation of the traditional structures and limitations of written-spoken narratives, and to challenge the definitions of signal and of noise.
Pronunciation Book was a partner piece to Horse_ebooks, and both concluded with the debut of Bear Stearns Bravo during the gallery show Bravospam in September 2013.
"How Do You Say Ralph Fiennes?" - The New Yorker
Verbal Energy Column for October 4, 2011 - Christian Science Monitor
"Pronunciation Book Countdown Mystery Revealed" - CNET
"An Entire Channel Of Word Pronunciations" - Laughing Squid