Literature and art

Gesture: the aural-vocal nature: deconstruction

Statement + work by Jolanta Lapiak

The term "gesture" evokes an image of the association with hands, commonly found in literature and art.

One sometimes sees the title, "Gesture," that accompanies a work of art in a gallery, where typically the term "gesture" associates with "hand." One day I encountered a work of art titled "Gesture" by a hearing Canadian artist Amanda Burke in a Halifax gallery in 2006 or 2007.

To disclaim the fallacy that gesture tends to be equated with the hand, a few of my works deconstruct this tendency, as shown below.

Gesture audio
Gesture (2006). Audio with blank screen. 3mins 20secs 720x480px NTSC.

The first work is a video-audio Gesture (2006). "This work Gesture contains nothing but a blank screen and the audio of auditory gesture. It plays sounds which were emitted from my hands, breaths, and vocalized gestures under the mask, when manually speaking in my expressive poetry performance, Ameslan, coughing English, Ameslan.

"My breaths became heavy and deep as they echoed inside the mask which amplified my vocalizations (gestures). My body moved in synchronization with my vocal gestures." -- thesis statement, 2007.

vocal gesture
Gesture (2011). Drawing by Jolanta Lapiak.

"Logocentrism asserts that speech has a quality of interiority, and that writing has a quality of exteriority. Derrida, however, argues that the play of difference between speech and writing is the play of difference between interiority and exteriority." (Alex Scott, 2002)

Based on the Derrida's idea above, the partly excerpted text from my thesis (2007) describes further:

"Vocal-auditory utterance is seen as interiority, whereas visual-manual utterance is regarded as exteriority. Visual-manual language is seen as an outer projectile - metaphorically a phallic convex. It is clearly visible, whereas speech language is an inner projectile, a female concave, which is hollowed inward, not completely visible from the outside.

"Thus, according to Derrida, 'the play of difference between interiority and exteriority means that writing is both exterior and interior to speech and that speech is both interior and exterior to writing. This means the difference is erased.'

"If the inside body were the outside, we would observe that the diaphragm, the vocal tract, the tongue, the glottis and the lips are as actively gestural as the external body is when signing. The play of difference between the outside and inside of speech and sign then disappears." -- thesis, 2007.

The interplay between presence/absence, exteriority/interiority, concave/convex, and inside/outside becomes erased when one moves to the other side. It's a relative point of view.

Related posts

You might be also interested in Torn and Cut Dictionary: ripping language: a deconstruction art, Gesture vs Word what the brains proves.

New to sign language? "Where do I start?" or "How do I start learning sign language?" This ASL Rookie guide lists some selected links to the tutorials for ASL beginners to get started and keep rolling. It may be a useful review for intermediate-level learners and ASL students as well.

Some tutorial pages are a mix of free and premium versions. Access to premium content and links below are available in the PatronPlus subscription. More links/posts will be added from time to time.

Expressing needs and wants

  1. Making commands or requests

Talking about activities

  1. Frequency of time: how often?

Are you able to carry everyday conversations in ASL? Are you a student in the intermediate levels and beyond, who wishes to boost up your signing skills? You've come to the selected tutorial series. (Some premium content are available to PatronPlus membership.)

Stories, poems, performance arts, etc. in sign language.

This documentation project follows a child's language acquisition, literacy development, and phonological acquisition in sign language, specifically ASL, from newborn to age five in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.