Soldiers would travel great lengths to speak to her and learn their fortune – fortune itself also being a concept of that time.
The Oracle of Delphi speaks in tongues. The Oracle of Delphi speaks nonsense, speaks not in riddles exactly, but speaks a text that is channeled from beyond. In this way the oracle of Delphi is an instrument, a receiver of a transmission. She becomes an object at the moment of transmission and the message passes through her.
In the financial district in 2005, at a Chipotle, Jordan described the film he was making for the 2006 Whitney Biennial. At RISD, Jordan had refused to leave the sculpture department even though he only made videos. He told the annoyed professors he was not interested in making objects but was still making sculpture.
Over the burrito bowl, a typical Libra meal of that era, Jordan described his film for the Whitney Biennial. It would feature a single shot using black and white 16mm film of a man in a tuxedo, filmed from the neck down, using sign language to speak the final speech from Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 film The Great Dictator. In this film Chaplin plays both a Hitler-esque dictator and a Jewish barber who is a Hitler-esque dictator look-a-like. In the final scene the Jewish barber has been mistakenly put on stage as the dictator before a huge crowd of soldiers and he delivers a message of peace and brotherhood instead of the message of war. To Jordan this scene must have been above all a fantasy of the most powerful position of direct address.
For his film, Jordan put Chaplin’s words in the hands of–actually inside of the hands on–a headless tuxedoed sign language interpreter. The movements look spasmodic. The movements look like mad indecipherable speaking in tongues but speaking in fingertips. It looked like the gibberish of the Oracle.
Speaking in fingertips, the Oracle of Delphi speaks beyond riddles, even though her transmission was packaged by the officiants surrounding her as messages, almost slogans, “Go, return not die in war,” confusing bumper sticker sounding prophecy. A bumper sticker Empire, Fortune, throne–a message to adorn your shield with, to adorn the bumpers of your cars with. Speaking in bumper sticker tips.