Zhu Hua and Ella McCartney, Birkbeck
As a new way of understanding language and communication, translanguaging refers to the dynamic meaning-making process whereby multilingual speakers go beyond conventional divide between languages and modalities to act, to know and to be (García & Li Wei, 2014). Translanguaging practice in visual means is commonplace in everyday communication and language arts represented by artists such as Xu Bing. Terming this kind of practice as ‘visual turn’ in translanguaging, Tong-King Lee (2015, p.441) argues how visual forms of communication demonstrate the way translanguaging ‘delineates borders while simultaneously interrogating them, creating liminal zones and articulating a politics of (mis)recognition, (un)readability, and (in)communicability.
In this context, we are delighted to have an opportunity funded by the Leverhulme Artist-in-Residence Scheme to work together to further explore the multi-modal aspect of translanguaging, boundaries between language and visual images, and the way people engage with a new visual mode of communication. Between March and December, 2016, Ella McCartney will be working as an Artist in Residence with Zhu Hua, Professor of Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck, University of London.
A co-investigator of the TLANG project, Zhu Hua is interested in what semiotic resources are made available and embodied during communication, how multilingual and intercultural speakers make use of semiotic resources to negotiate meaning and create (new) identities in their everyday life, and when and with whom individuals evoke the imaged boundaries between languages. She has primarily explored these issues among transnational communities and in the context of intercultural communication where people from different cultural and/or linguistic backgrounds come into contact. Sharing the same interested in semiotics as Zhu Hua, Ella’s multi-modal practice explores context and the fluidity of meaning in language. She has exhibited her work internationally. She also works as a Fine Art lecturer and on curatorial and education projects with museums. Examples of Ella McCartney’s practice can be found on www.ellamccartney.com.
During the residency Ella and Zhu Hua will investigate the inter-relationship between image, language and meaning through visual and auditory means. The interdisciplinary nature of the project provides an opportunity to test out different ways to interact with language. The dynamic meaning-making process will be at the centre of the research, presented in a public exhibition in November. Process will continue to be explored within the context of the exhibition, when visitors will be invited to engage with the work and activate materials on display.
Some examples of Ella’s previous art work:
In this work, materials are brought together to test the relationship between things that are there and things that are not there: pH testing paper, soap, photographs, photograms and correction fluid. To different degrees the materials assert physical presence, whilst being ephemeral. The materials and objects are at different stages in processes of change: potential, ongoing and completed. The materials suggest activity: past and present, inside and outside the room. Together, the work is fuelled by thinking about the instability of fixed meaning in language.
García, O., & Li Wei (2014). Translanguaging: Language Bilingualism and Education. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Lee, T-K. (2015). Translanguaging and visuality: Translingual practices in literary art. Applied Linguistics Review, 6(4), 441-465.