Synachine is Python-coded software that queries the Words API. Words API is an application program interface created to output definitions, synonyms, categories, and associations of entered words. It is a product of the software company RapidAPI. At rest, a white screen with a white text-entry box is seen. A button with the text "Press Enter for Synonym" is seen at the bottom of the screen. Upon typing in a word and pressing enter, the viewer sees a randomly selected synonym for the entered word appear on the screen. By both the nature of synonyms and the human (western, patriarchal, heteronormative)-constructedness of the API, the delivered synonym may be incorrect, nonsensical, or problematic. The viewer is then directed to denote the synonym "correct" or "incorrect". Upon selection, a printed receipt is generated with all possible synonyms in the API's dictionary, with the prefix of "correct" or "incorrect". User designation does not affect output beyond this prefix.
Constructed initially as an exploration of the word-switching people who stutter will perform, the installation is an examination of racist and prejudiced power systems, language and who controls it, and the commodity and context-driven nature of language. The word "black" will deliver such synonyms as "shameful", "inglorious", and "negro". The word "white" delivers mainly names of persons (mysteriously, these are not synonyms for white). The word "Indian" delivered words only related to Native Americans, not India. What culture created the dictionary that the WordsAPI is now referencing? Who controlled what power in that culture? Entering more general words will speak to the piece's original intention of word-switching. "Lame" may get such a synonym as "halting" or "feeble". These words all have the same broad-meaning but can change a sentence dramatically when interchanged. The receipt paper takeaway references the transactional nature of speech and the cost of speech, particularly for persons with difficulty speaking. The interaction has cost the viewer, taking both their time and attention. Language is a commodity, and is traded. The viewer receives a receipt for their conversation with the machine, as they would from any transaction.