xLab: Language-as-Machine

xLab: Language-as-Machine

The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar

February 27, 2023
February 13–April 8, 2023
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The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar
PO Box 8095
Education City

The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar presents the first solo-exhibition for xLab, Language-as-Machine. The exhibition features works that fuse computational design and art to explore the interplay between technology, language, the evolution of human thought processes and innovation.

Ever-evolving, language stores the history of our collective past, holds our memories, allows us to articulate our thoughts, and preserves a foundation of knowledge that allows us to collaboratively build toward the future. Language is a foundation.

Consider a hypothetical genesis of communication (disregarding the historically probable origins), where the most primitive forms of expression suddenly allowed the preservation of information beyond the boundaries of an individual mind. Consider the time before recorded language, where the mapping of concepts into facial expressions, gestures, and sound, allowed ideas to be distributed among a collective of many individuals. This distribution creates a living network of information redundancy, a fluid surface that breathes with the collective knowledge of humanity, an enduring echo through generations, into the future. Language breathes.

Sound is fleeting, whereas recorded language is able to map concepts into more enduring physical forms. Forms in perpetual evolution, pressured politically, ideologically, technologically, practically. New encodings are formulated, ideographic, pictographic, phonetic, and mathematical. Graphic articulations able to be interpreted visually at any time in the future until the point when their patterns physically degrade into random noise. Language is a signal from the past.

What might have been if language had evolved differently? What graphic encodings could be speculated given a different set of historical and contextual circumstances? What were the forces that propagated some language encodings while consuming others? What insights can be uncovered as we navigate the historical paths and landmarks that chart the current shapes of our language? Language is a map.

This exhibition presents a collection of creative research and artistic expression that explores language as a machine. A machine that compresses, records, and transmits a collective cultural knowledge. A machine of many operators servicing many objectives. A machine that labors, degrades, is repaired, upgraded. A machine that calculates and predicts. A machine that remembers and forgets. Language is a machine.

xLab, founded by Mohammad Suleiman, Levi Hammett, Haithem El Hammali and Hind Al Saad, is part of VCUarts Qatar’s Institute for Creative Research. The lab’s goal is to create tools and artifacts that converge art, design, and the sciences through technology, computation, and craft. The exhibition also features Basma Hamdy, Fatima Abbas, Fatima Al Dosari, Giovanni Innella, Hala Amer, Joshua Rodenberg, Lana Abou Selo, Martin Juras, Maryam Al Homaid, Michael Hersurd, Rab McClure, Roudah Al Sheeb, Saga Elkabbash, Sara Al-Afifi, Sara Khalid, Selma Fejzullaj and Shima Aeinehdar.

Organized by The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar team: Meera Badran. Exhibition design by: Levi Hammett, Hind Al Saad and Meera Badran. Production assistance: Joshua Bell, Lana Abou Selo, Rogsh Garcia, Humyra Najdam, Jood Elbeshti and Hagar Allam.

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The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar
February 27, 2023

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