"let's talk about the birds and the bees"
As a native speaker of the English language, other dialects have always held a fascination to me. Almost everyone I meet can communicate with me in English and yet until recently, I could not speak any other language to a passable level. Living in the Netherlands and learning to speak Dutch has put me in a position I have never been in before. I now consider language from a whole new perspective, as my brain can use two different contexts for its understanding.
This self-awareness of dialect has led me to creating this piece “Let’s talk about the birds and the bees”, which is the first in a series of work I intend to make concentrating on the subject of language. The series will be a visual record of my research, from its origins to the anatomy that makes language possible and from animal communication as a comparison to the linguistic structure of modern speech. Due to these concepts being first recorded as writing on paper, I will use paper as the medium to present my ideas. The visual paper cutting imagery suggests with symbolism and humour the complex concepts which make up language.
This first piece, “Let’s talk about the birds and the bees” begins to investigate the origins of spoken language. The title is a humorous play on the English phrase; meaning to talk about the fundamentals of life and in this case language itself. The title extends into the work as all conversations humorously reference “the birds and the bees.”
As of yet, language has no definite origin and so I have chosen to focus on how it evolved as a form of imitation. I compared this process with the mechanism of DNA replication, each following a similar process of copying, improving any mistakes and then passing on the information. Language has no one origin because it has no one influencing factor; it is a product of the culmination of biology, individual learning and culture. In my piece, I have tried to represent many of the factors influencing language’s early development; researched from the works of Steven Pinker, Christine Kenneally and many other scientific papers.
This piece also experiments with a technique new to my work, embossing. I want the paper in my practise to retain its influence by having no other materials added but this leads to a void concerning texture. I have therefore experimented with printing techniques to create areas of the piece where the paper is embossed with texture. The piece also features the characteristic shadows of my artistic practise, as the piece is framed between Perspex so light can shine through.