Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Book of Extinction Languages

Over the weekend I finished the binding for Book of Extinct Languages. It is totally amazing to think of all the cultures, all the languages, all the native people who are no longer in their original existance. I had no idea just how many languages have died out until doing the research for this artist book. Dozen and dozens of native American Indian tribes, Polynesian people, nomadic groups, and ancient civilizations are gone. Their words, phrases, and idioms are all gone too. It was staggering to think of all the beautiful museum artifacts I've admired over the years and to realize that the maker couldn't talk to a single soul if granted a day in the twenty-first century. Communications have changed so much. Today we have the Internet, blogs, cable television, and more newsprint than a soul could read. Yet, as we come together in common languages, we lose so much too.

I wrote the following statement for the book. It will appear in the video that Alex will be making soon: While contemplating lost civilizations and the relics such cultures have left for museum display, it became impossible to ignore language. The words used by ancient cultures to describe their artifacts have often been forgotten. What are left to the modern era are the textiles, pottery, tools, religious objects, costumes, jewelry, baskets, masks, small furnishings and other functional and personal items. What is lost is the flow of communication. Everyday objects have become priceless works of art that cannot be discussed in a native language. This altered book seeks to remind viewers of how much culture is lost when only an artifact remains.

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