This post is part of the Meet the ETCL Team series, which introduces the wonderful people who work in the lab and who have worked with us in the past.
Faraz joined the lab in September 2023 as a Digital Scholarship Fellow. He is currently working on his project “On a Loom of Code and Colour,” that fuses the art of Persian poetry with the capabilities of AI. Through regular conversations with ChatGPT and other language models, he translates poems while striving to preserve the essence and interpretation of the originals. To Faraz, all translation – and life itself – is a relentless pursuit of meaning and sense, imbued with the romantic belief that every word is a vessel to an ocean of untold stories, and a stoic acceptance of the inevitable spaces and loss that accompany the act. Faraz often quotes his interpretation of Rumi’s poignant reflections on how words can both clarify and cloud the ineffable:
What are words — consuming your thoughts one and all,
But thorns that obscure a verdant garden’s wall?
I’ll break down sound and word and speech, all the three,
So I can just breathe with you in harmony.
The purest breath I have from others concealed,
To you, holder of secrets, will be revealed.
Faraz is a PhD student in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction at the University of Victoria. He has worn many hats, often at the same time, since he began his career over three decades ago as one of Iran’s first realtime 3D animators and graphics programmers – lecturing at universities, running an official translation bureau, administering a national IELTS test centre, and acting as a fulltime diplomatic interpreter and consultant in his home country. His current academic path is guided by the desire to facilitate understanding and learning across cultures, the democratization of knowledge and beauty, and the exploration of the synthesis of human creativity with computational efficiency.
Faraz’s typical day in the lab is filled with rigorous study, deep engagement with poetic texts, and collaboration with both AI and fellow scholars to refine the translation process. He meticulously documents these interactions, creating and connecting Markdown files using Obsidian, which he sees as more than just a tool; to him, it is an essential extension of his brain, enabling him to organize complex research and creative projects efficiently. In addition to his work at the lab, Faraz is a sessional lecturer of Digital Art at UVic, and an avid creator of digital visuals and electronic soundscapes. He is passionate about the demoscene culture and is known to enthusiastically corner family and strangers alike, rummaging around the digital archives of Demozoo.org and Pouet.org to show the latest 64-kilobyte demo or generation technique. Another personal research interest of his lies in studying the potential of simplified drawing and illustration as tools for communication and self-discovery.
In his free time, Faraz prefers to engage with his passions for games and creative coding, and finds solace in music and improvisation, where the spontaneous melodic lines of Iranian instruments echo the patterns of his research. His leisure time might find him exploring the possibilities of technology through personal projects or savoring the silent dialogue between the pensive notes of a setar. He also enjoys walking, drawing inspiration from the lush landscapes and serene vistas of Victoria. His taste in media reflects a penchant for stories that challenge perceptions of reality, evident in his favorite movies such as Men in Black, The Matrix, and Inception. Podcasts like You Are Not So Smart, Freakonomics Radio, The Moth, and Poetry Unbound are among his favorites.