05 July 2005


This is the artist statement that accompanied my entry for the TWNCAA:

The Painting language deck of cards is part of a series of works investigating the concept of visual language. Paintings are often referred to as texts and analysed using literary concepts such as metonym and synecdoche, but is this really appropriate? Is painting a visual language? For that matter, is there any such thing as visual language at all?

A language has two components: a set of words, and rules for combining those words into meaningful sentences. Those rules are the language’s grammar. They allow a finite set of words to form an infinite number of sentences.

We are surrounded by visual signs that function as words – signs that tell us where and how fast to drive, which toilets to use, where not to smoke, etc. Some of these signs combine conventional symbols to form simple declarative sentences (for example a circle with a bar through combined with a picture of something to form a sentence such as ‘No dogs allowed’). I am interested in developing a set of visual signs that can be combined to form a large range of complex sentences.

According to art theory, the meaning of a particular work resides in the intertextual space between the viewer and a given work (text). In Painting language, the viewer constructs not only the meaning of the text but also the text itself. They decide which cards make up the text. They decide what words are represented by the glyphs on the cards. They decide on the rules governing the relationships between the cards. Not only the meaning but the work itself is created through the interaction of viewer and object.

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