"*leikw – Inheritance, Elegant, Election (phonetic connotations series), 2013" is a video triptych of my mouth reproducing phonemes while exploring the many paths of alliteration by which meaning comes into being. These videos are simulations of the trajectory that phonetics have taken over time through the de/re-contextualizations resulting from human migration. For example, in “Elegant,” I start incessantly repeating the PIE (Proto-Indo-European) word *leikw —. The repetitions quickly morph into eleg- which transforms into the Latin eligere, subsequently transmuting into elegans – elegantis and finally the modern English word “elegant.” *leikw – is the Proto-Indo-European word for “inheritance,” which is phonologically closely related to the Latin root eleg-, meaning choice.
In this case, “phonologically related” means that the most distinctive sounds are the liquid alveolar sound l followed by a velar stop kw or g. The piece explores the notion in comparative linguistics that sounds using the same oral muscles or cavities are often interchangeable. These modifications happen due to cultural influences, migrations, linguistic assimilations (i.e., oral translations), and finally genetic mutation. *leikw – is an attempt to illustrate clearly the process used to identify key sound forms in modern languages in order to show how units of sounds that serve as building blocks to the words we use today have pre-determined meanings constructed through a long history. The central purpose of this exercise was the development of a new representation model for language and concepts.
Now, you may wonder, what is the connection between “inheritance” and the adjective “elegant”? To answer that question, we must try to transpose ourselves into the environment in which the Proto-Indo-European sounds originated. The experience is purely conceptual by nature, but it does yield a rather clarifying observation: Inheritance comes with privilege, which in turn produces the luxury of choice. In an abundance of choice there's a game or protocol that is cultural by conception. The ability to understand this game and work it, making the “right” choices, becomes a marker of elegance.