The Doublespeak Translator

The Space Merchants

The advertising industry is a well-oiled lying machine, which keeps encouraging us to consume more at an ever-decreasing price. Advertising agencies line their pockets, while workers and consumers lose out.

The Doublespeak Translator reveals the truth behind every advertising lie. The machine translates advertisements full of slick pictures and rhetorical slogans into crystal-clear collages with words and images that expose the insane messages of these advertisements. With this educational module, The Space Merchants hope to teach young people and adults to recognise, ridicule and reject this system. In this way, we slowly develop a greater awareness of the messages that are being fed to us and learn to turn our backs on them.

Watch the explainer video.

about the makers

Evert Jan van Leeuwen is assistant professor of English literature and culture at Leiden University. He is the captain of The Space Merchants: students, colleagues and friends who share his concern about the negative effects of our current mass consumption on humans, animals, plants and the environment. Their name is a reference to the 1953 science fiction novel of the same name by Frederick Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth. This novel depicts an overpopulated and polluted world, dominated by powerful advertising agencies.

Photo: Taco van der Eb


In de klas kun je De Dubbelspraakvertaler gebruiken om reclames vol gelikte plaatjes en retorische leuzen te vertalen naar glasheldere collages met woord en beeld, die de krankzinnige boodschappen van deze reclames blootleggen. De onderwijsmodule bestaat uit een boek met 5 thematische hoofdstukken (vrije markt, koopkracht, koopkoorts, supermarkt, reclameboodschappen) waarmee je de verdraaide wereld van reclametaal en -beeldmateriaal bestudeert.

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Photo: Taco van der Eb

If Things Grow Wrong

The Doublespeak Translator is part of the exhibition If Things Grow Wrong. We want faster, bigger, more. Is that always better, or do problems grow unnoticed? The exhibition on growth addiction can be seen from October 15th in Museum De Lakenhal.

more about the exhibition order your tickets