Catalyst Conversations: Picturing Language

April 25, 2024
Event Types
Talk / Lecture
Public Program
Infographic for Catalyst Conversations: Picturing Language. The text reads "Picturing Language Artist, Sarah Hulsey Linguist, Athulya Aravind April 25, 2024 6-7pm"

Sarah Hulsey, Syllable Tokens, 2021. Pen and ink, pencil, relief print, collage. 9" x 8.5". Photo: Will Howcroft

Catalyst Conversations in partnership with the List Visual Art Center presents – Picturing Language: Artist Sarah Hulsey  and Linguist Athulya Aravind 

The persistence of language is a human experience. Both art and language act as a door to that experience. The structure of language is the structure of the brain, as linguist Noam Chomsky says, “language is not just a bunch of words statistically strung together. Structures governing words come from the mind.”

Sarah Hulsey describes her work this way:
“My work is concerned with the architecture that underpins language, which we use effortlessly but with little awareness of its beauty and complexity. Even a simple sentence has layers and layers of organization, governed by a complex set of rules and interactions happening below the level of our conscious knowledge. Small pieces of information (atomic components, as it were) combine into ever larger units within the concurrent linguistic systems at play. These components are organized into elegant structures that exist only in the mind. In my artwork, I analyze these structures and create visual correlates, looking for poetry and resonance in the rich patterns that emerge.”

Artist Sarah Hulsey and MIT Linguist Athulya Aravind will explore the important underlying aspect of the structure of language that compels them in their respective practices. The idea of picturing language is a way of understanding language, which is so deeply embedded in us. This promises to be a very enlightening discussion.