Panel: Without Sin: Taboo and Freedom within Digital Media
“The problem of language is at the heart of all the struggles between the forces striving to abolish the present alienation and those striving to maintain it… Under the control of power, language always designates something other than authentic experience.” _All the King’s Men, Situationist International, 1963
This paper takes the position that the language[s] of technology, and the application of language within digital environments, continue to be intimately entwined with the ongoing struggle against “the present alienation”, as well being implicated in the undermining of authenticity (the lack of a true identity). Supported by Adorno’s observation that “[O]bjects do not go into their concepts, without leaving a remainder…”, (Negative Dialectics), the ways in which language frames experience, identity, and political and social realities, in online contexts will be thought through. If, as Adorno suggests, language is a total system which results in conceptual closure, and mis-directs experience, where might we glimpse the linguistic ‘remainders’, with their potential for revolution/redefinition, within the digital context? A close reading of All The King’s Men, and other texts on language and power, will be presented alongside a series of examples which highlight the problem of language. If we are collateral damage to the continual tyrrany of language, how do we resist this, in the new information environments and playgrounds we inhabit? If the persistent taboo which haunts language is making any attempt to stand outside it, in order to assess its influence, how do we break out of this double-bind?
- Dr. Sheena Calvert has over 20 years experience in graphic design and typography; art and critical theory, gained in both in the UK and the US. She is a senior lecturer in Critical Theory within the Visual Communication programme at the University of Westminster (UK), and has taught at various universities and art schools, including U.Mass Dartmouth, Rutgers, New Jersey (USA), CSM, The LCC, University of Hertfordshire and Norwich School of Art (UK). Her professional practise includes the establishment of a New York-based design studio, whose clients included Visual Aids, Verso publishing, the Lincoln Center, The American Museum of Natural History, and the Jewish Women’s Archive. In the UK, she runs her own design practice, is a fellow of the Institute of Contemporary Arts and Sciences, and has exhibited her work internationally. In 2010, she participated in the b-side Multimedia Arts Festival, as an invited artist. Her undergraduate and graduate work at the Central school of Art and Yale University involved investigations of typography and its relationship to various experimental forms of literature, and philosophies of language. Her PhD work looked at the interconnections between art/language, paradox, and meaning, arguing for a ‘sensual logic’. She has a particular interest in letterpress printing as an experimental/critical medium, and runs her own letterpress studio, the .918 press, in Hackney, London.
Full text (PDF) p. 328-334