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RAI Anthropology and Language Committee Event

The architecture of evidence: language printed in 3D

Dr Alex Pillen, University College London

Friday 25 October 2019 at 6.30 pm

All languages have the means for establishing ‘evidence’ for what one is saying. Evidentiality constitutes sections of verbal performance which are closely tied into observable reality. Language and perceivable reality are woven into a fabric, its shape depending on the grammar of each language.

We used spline-based computation as such a virtual place to explore the architecture of evidence in language. An anthropology of sound and experimental architecture enables a portrayal of language as a frozen, abstracted, syllabic, or sonic structure woven into reality by means of evidentiality. We present a method of visualisation in 3D of the architecture of evidence across languages. The latest 3D modelling tools allowed us to digitally construct prototypes based on an Amazonian language, Kurdish, the ancient Neo-Assyrian language and American English. The images are based on a translation into a visual programming language, and graphical algorithm editor (Grasshopper integrated with Rhino’s 3-D modelling tools). The comparative nature of this study’s images is intended as a visual analysis of linguistic modernity and the erosion of contextual evidence.

The images created for this study define a new typology of representation of language; one which is between the analytical and figurative and encourages the viewer to understand the nuances of each of these worlds simultaneously. Such a CAD ‘surface’ is not conceived as a linguistic trace superimposed upon reality, but a weft of language threaded through it, as an all-enveloping infusion. Reality rather than being a solid globe upon the surface of which language unfolds appears textile. The tensile strength of its linguistic threads and overall shape defined by the evidential resources of each language. These images are both communicative and inquisitive. Their form was uncertain until they were created, at which point they revealed previously unvisualised relationships between language and the axis of observable reality.


This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-architecture-of-evidence-language-printed-in-3d-mal-seminars-tickets-76676715119

Location : University College London, Anthropology Department
14 Taviton Street
King’s Cross