Submarine Channel

Unspeak is an interactive documentary investigating the manipulative power of language. Blending filmmaking, data, technology, and design, the story unfolds across a series of short films, data visualizations, and a participatory dictionary. The project is based on British journalist Steven Poole’s intriguing book of the same name.

With its demands for sound-bytes and attention grabbing quotes, the media creates Unspeak. Rather than critically investigating terms coined by politicians, the media engines often indiscriminately hijack them.

Through a radical collage of archival footage, quotes, and Steven Poole’s own enlightening analyses, the interactive experience critically and satirically reveals the unspoken messages and obscured meanings behind familiar media terms such as Weapons of Mass Destruction, File Sharing, Austerity Measures, Erectile Dysfunction, or the Dutch word Kopvoddentax.

The project visualizes how language is manipulated to suit political agendas and the changing role and responsibility of the media. By tracing the history and incentives behind Unspeak terms, the documentary makes Unspeak framing visible to audiences and educates the public about this form of coded language that can be learned.

Tune in to the wealth of daily Unspeak talk, so that you’ll start seeing and hearing it everywhere. And then, perhaps, we can fight back.

The introductory episode of this series was supported by the Dutch Cultural Media Fund and The Netherlands Film Fund, a Submarine Channel production in collaboration with VPRO.


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