Language is a powerful tool. With text being central to Emma Lloyd’s artistic expression, she builds upon its established usage in art, probing its fortes and failures.
Text and language have been an obsession of mine ever since I began working with books in my practice. From about 2012 onwards it became one of the main focal points of my work. I am interested in probing the nature of communication itself, exploring the methods we use to comprehend and acknowledging the accessibility of our chosen methods of sharing through language.
Given the marked polarisation of the times we live in I think it is more important than ever to discuss dialogue and content used to shape and inform our perspectives. By investigating the fundamentals of communication we can equip ourselves with a deeper understanding of both ourselves and others.
About the piece:
The broken text pieced together across the tiles of this 15 puzzle is derived from a quote by American journalist Flora Lewis “Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things”.
For this initial quote, Emma used a commonplace font specifically for its neutrality and functional styling. Familiarity was key in this decision. She wanted the dissected font to be instantly recognisable as text even though it had been transformed into a pattern by applying simple rules (all forms were cut in half horizontally).
When planning this particular piece she was keen to involve the viewer regardless of age in a very immediate way. The object had to be something we were all familiar with and would know how to engage with without prompting. Emma has always been keen on interaction (more specifically play) as a way to encourage contemplation of concepts within works. She enjoys the impulsive and natural way in which we engage when we play. We are less apprehensive and have a tendency to just “do”. This contrasts strongly with other elements in her practice where barriers have to be in place because of the fragility of the material.
The key to solving the puzzle depends entirely on your perspective. The colours and shapes you choose to focus on determine the way you view the piece and ultimately how you bring forth your take on it. The viewer is confronted with a pattern formed by the letters and not the words themselves since they have been dissected. It was decided that this was an important thing to do with the quote since she was addressing thought and language – being able to read the message itself was less important. Emma didn’t wish to make it easier for some over others purely because the language in the piece used was more familiar to them. It was determined that everyone should be on equal footing.