July 1, 2020

What do words mean when we’ve lost all meaning?

Stephen Nelson


Sometimes I find language impenetrable. Words are forever shifting meaning and seem to have no intrinsic significance other than the meaning we give them. Language is a consensus reality, yet also purely subjective, given context, mood, tone, history. What happens when language is deprogrammed, when meaning is stripped away, leaving us with the bare bones of expression – the written sign or spoken sound? Imagine using words that no one understood! It could be really lonely, quite isolating. But human beings are so desperate to connect that meaning and relationships can be established by pure sound and shape alone. How do I connect intimately with my environment when no one really understands me and I don’t really understand myself? My work here is about a deeply subjective flow of energy coming through on to a pavement using chalk like a piece of community automatic writing. Where it comes from – the subconscious, the superconscious – doesn’t matter so much as the purity and singularity of connection being attempted through unique, and hopefully fascinating, written shapes and signs. Maybe this is the intersection between writing and drawing, but it’s certainly about something more essential in human expression and connection.