john christopher sawyers clifton charles
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Redeemed by Language


In the beginning was the word JOHN 1.1

The limits of my language are the limits of my world. LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN


All humans are redeemed by language. Homo Sapiens is the ape that learned to speak. There are approximately seven thousand languages in use, though at least half of these will be extinct by the end of the century. 


The series is concerned with language in extremis. The limits of language are the limits of being human, we are both made and undone by language. It is at the edge of experience that there are no words; the inconceivable  becomes indescribable.


In the beginning was the word. Each new infant symbolically reproduces the guttural sounds of those first talking apes. In the end too may be the word. The state of Texas, for example, has executed over five hundred people. Before death, each convict is allowed to speak. Memories of terrible crimes may now be juxtaposed against expressions of love. Are things comprehensible (and so potentially redeemable) when words can be found to describe them? And for those staying mute, what's in the silence?


As drugs are administered, a priest holds the convict’s ankle. A last touch. Braille is the language of touch and the language of the blind. The word blind  is often attached to extreme emotions. Love is blind. Blind hate. If you can see braille, you probably can't understand it.

Texas Landscapes are created from death row mugshots. 


In May 1986,  TV and radio waves were beamed through air contaminated with caesium 127. An invisible cloud of radiation was moving westwards across europe. Chernobyl makes the invisible visible, mixing contemporary images of the abandoned exclusion zone with the adverts and pop music of the original broadcast signals.


Some works incorporate current dosimeter radiation readings. Radiation levels are now mostly safe.