Previously at the ICA - Events

Holly Childs, house sitting Kerry-Ann's house, 2014

Lunch Bytes: Life: Language

22 Nov 2014

Chaired by writer Elvia Wilk, a panel of speakers including Holly Childs, Florian Cramer, David Jablonowski and Cally Spooner reflect on the role of language in our current digital culture.

Although generally considered to be a visual environment dominated by moving and still images, the contemporary web is also fundamentally rooted in linguistic structures. The content we access through our browser window for example, is written in hypertext markup language (HTML), textual search is still the most important online navigation tool and images are traceable on a linguistic description-based logic only. This coexistence of visual and linguistic information has led to a distinct interplay between image and text in digital culture, something that is clearly reflected in contemporary artistic production.

Online communication has also affected how natural languages evolve. Platforms such as Twitter, Reddit, and 4Chan have proliferated a distinct internet lingo characterised by informality, grammatical and typographical errors. Online social dynamics play an important role in this evolving linguistic mutation, which spreads in viral patterns much like the distribution of memes, but these changes are not solely driven by the social. In digital environments, technology co-authors what we write: the search algorithm, the automatic spell check, or the word limit in a Twitter message, inform the texts we produce. Poets, writers, and artists have reflected on and experimented with this contemporary linguistic innovation by incorporating internet-lingo, playing with emerging techniques such as the radical use of copy/paste, and using online formats such as Twitter messages.

Lunch Bytes: Life Language

Lunch Bytes is a series of four public discussions over the course of a year, which examine the consequences of the increasing ubiquity of digital networked technologies in relation to artistic practice. Each event is dedicated to a different topic and brings together European artists, media scholars, designers, curators and intellectuals.

Watch two previous two Lunch Bytes discussions

Organised in collaboration with Arcadia Missa; Digital Culture Unit, Goldsmiths, University of London; and the Goethe Institut, this series is part of a larger European project conceived by Melanie Buehler and the Goethe-Institut in Northwest Europe, comprising events in London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Dublin, which will culminate with a symposium in Berlin in 2015.

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