Decoding language

This week seems to be a week of finds…finding things that have inspired me each day. I wish my visual arts students were inspired at the moment…they seem to be at an all time creative low and no matter what motivational methods are put in place, they just don’t seem to want to progress their practice. An incredibly frustrating week with them…and I thought it started so well. Anyway, today I came across ‘Silenc’ (on Design Boom) by designers Manas Karambelkar, Momo Miyazaki and Kenneth A. Robertsen who created the project as a tangible visualization and exploration of silent letters within French, English, and Danish for ‘Data Visualisation Week 2012’ at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID).

Their project investigates the portion of a language which is silent and the potential for language comprehension with silent characters removed from the text. The three designers note that one of the most challenging aspects of learning a new language is pronunciation and the less phonetic the alphabet, the more difficult it is for the speaker to correctly sound out the words. The project was born from an inquisitive approach to,

“…a common peculiarity amongst many western languages – the silent letter…a silent letter is a letter that appears in a particular word, but does not correspond to any sound in the word’s pronunciation.”

Three book were printed re-interpreting Hans Christian Andersen’s short stories (in French, English and Danish), where all of the silent letters are printed in red at a large scale. In order to read it, you have to use a red light filter or looking glass through which to view the text, eliminating the red letters, leaving only the sounded characters from each word visible. The silent letters are removed from the readable text entirely, instead saved for the end to be reviewed upon finishing one of Andersen’s iconic tales.

Does anyone else often think this is how life feels sometimes? Sometimes a haze of conflicting languages, narratives, words, messages, never knowing what on earth to think about the simplest of things and situations…and other times life makes complete sense, you see clarity and nothing can stop you. You can breathe deeply…

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