In the mornings_ a manipulative relationship_ between_ captain_ cardboard_ and_ horror electronics_
Sentences like these tend to happen when you recycle ABC radio, podcasts and rubbish bins full of cardboard. Canberra artist Jay Kochel welcomes you to the world of Lingoplasty.
Jay describes the work as one based on concepts of fridge poetry or Dada poetry where you randomly put together words to create new meaning.
He goes on to explain his creative techniques. “I’ve sampled sounds and individual words from Radio National, podcasts, Playschool, kid’s nursery rhymes off the net. Then I chopped those up and put them into individual word groups— noun, verb, adjective—on the computer. The computer then sifts through those and randomly selects a word from each group. So as you walk through the space, the speakers then throw these random words to you.”
Whether it is actually random or meaningful has instigated some heated debate between participants and the artist. Jay says that, “the meaning may be random but the structure is not, so the results will be grammatically correct. Hopefully though, the nonsense will become meaningful just by the wilful participation of the viewer. It’s basically an experiment in language interpretation and the limits of meaning, and I guess I’ve tried to push it to a point where it’s beyond a thousand monkeys randomly typing on machines to try and produce Shakespeare.”
He describes the work as experimental and experiential, “You play around with language in a way that you don’t really have the luxury of when you’re writing unless you cut up a newspaper or magazine. And with Lingoplasty, instead of experiencing words on the landscape of a fridge, you are actually experiencing them through time. It’s like switching the channels on the TV, randomly.”
Lingoplasty also draws together Jay’s dual interest in sculpture and sound. “Sound creates an environment that affects people beyond the purely visual. I also wanted to move the viewer into a field of experience. I’m tired of screen based media at the moment, so I wanted to create a more tactile and sensory space. Sound is spatial and because I have studied sculpture, I like to keep things related to the body.”
Wandering through the space is an experience in itself. Usually, when you imagine giant speakers, they’re accompanied by a low slung car, some loud R’n’B music and the best mag wheels money can buy. Lingoplasty is a bit more unexpected in appearance.
The speakers are cardboard, but they look like they could be timber or sandstone. And if you touch them, they’re like burba carpet or terry towelling. They’re shaped like two giant acorns that are about two metres high and two metres wide, with speakers inside that look like jet engines.
Using pre-loved materials was important to Jay. “I chose cardboard because it’s a seemingly limitless resource, you can’t use it up fast enough.” It definitely suits the recycled nature of his project, although he does add wryly that, “You do begin to wonder where your life is going when you’re standing in a rubbish skip, ripping plastic off cardboard boxes for a living.