In an exploratory project such as this there are naturally a lot of tangential directions of enquiry and investigation that run the risk of taking one off task. It’s important to keep the destination in mind.
Yet, if I am to learn to keep a momentum in my practice and grow as an artist beyond this project I need to find a way to cultivate and love seedling ideas that may be tangential, so that I can return to them later and grow them.
One such tangent I’m on right now is that I have grown an interest in proto-Indo-European. A language so little discussed and talked about that the spell check on every device I own still refuses to trust that’s its a real thing and constantly autocorrects me. -but that’s a tangent- anyhow, proto indo-European is a language we have no written form of that linguists have reconstructed by comparing the shared qualities of all the languages that derive from it. I.e. the indo-European languages, so things like Celtic, Greek, Germanic and the-like.
Every language from around here today is a sister or cousin, descended from from a smaller group of sister languages that have a singular earlier mother… proto indo-European (PIE).
My interest in PIE came about between my considering the role of boats during the time period and my natural obsession with language, which has been demonstrated previously in my work through text in English.
I did not have the opportunity to learn Greek or Latin in school, because who does, and my talents for language acquisition were hampered by my lack of interest matched with the lack of interest of my teachers. My obsession has come through English alone, and through literature. Though trust me, if we had Latin I’d have been all over that.
One of the things this project is consciously doing is taking me away from my previous work with text to try and rely on the communicative potential of my work as craft. – To try and speak without words as it were. So having this interest in a language is in a sense way off… but I still love language, and the work I am doing with the boats is connected to what I was doing with words. I am still interested in connection, and it’s limits. Me exploring the limits of an object as a container for connection and meaning is the same kind of process as I was taking for writing before.
What proto indo-European offers that I find exciting is the opportunity to express clearly what I am loving about my work right now… which is the tension between what is knowable and what is unknowable. The moment where the factual naturally meets our imagined conception of a thing it and somehow fuses. We cannot know anything fully, we are incapable of fully connecting to it because it is necessarily always distant, always other.
Proto Indo-European is exactly that, it is constructed by logical reverse engineering from later languages but we have no idea what it actually looked or sounded like, in the end we are always left guessing. Yet, at the same time spoken word always has a presence and a resonance that always feels meaningful because it is made up of human noises. There’s something in there even if you do not understand the words.
So, in order to love this tangent, I am reading up about it like crazy. One day I plan something using this language, presumably some kind of performance… but for now, it can percolate, it can be in the background, and I can love it for a while with no pressure for it to become anything… until the time is right