Blowin’ Blowin’

The video Blowin’ Blowin’ rearranges the words of Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos’s 2016 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech using an Oulipian constraint methodology. First, taking the filmed coverage of the event, Santos’s speech is cut up, each word becoming dislocated from the original order. Then the 3,341 words of the speech are reordered in consecutive alphabetical order as a restrictive remix. This video was conceived as a portrait of Colombia’s political oratory after the peace process and the agreement with FARC-EP guerrillas.

Here the grammar collapses but certain words stand out through Santos’s vocalisation and the number of repetitions of each word, exposing a subtext of emphasis and omission. For instance: paz is uttered 42 times, and guerra 25. Proceso, violencia, Colombia, posible, imposible, acuerdo, país, victimas and fin are said many times. In contrast, mujeres is only mentioned 4 times, justicia 3 times and sufrimiento and guerrilleros once. The alphabetical constraint places words in unintended juxtapositions, producing surprising counter-meanings and generating new potential readings of the speech.