Marking a particular phenomenon with a word – it’s giving it substance

Publié le 04/12/2015

Heidi Quante and Alicia Escott, the two Californian artists behind the “Bureau of Linguistical Reality” one day realised “that the words don’t exist to describe many of the emotions, ideas and situations that we are experiencing”. It soon became clear that they were not alone in experiencing this. Some years before, the chemist Paul Crutzen, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1995, coined the neologism “Anthropocene” (or age of humans) to describe the new geological period that began with the Industrial Revolution. The Anthropocene is the period during which, for the first time in history, human behaviour has had a significant impact on the Earth’s ecosystem.

The very unofficial “Office” is a participatory artwork with the objective of helping all those who wish to create neologisms to fill these vacant spaces in language. Aside from the fun aspect of inventing new idioms, the specific aim in finding new words is “to help us better understand the drastic changes our environment has been undergoing in recent years, particularly as a result of climate change”.

“Marking a particular phenomenon with a word involves conceptualizing this phenomenon and giving it substance. This enables people to talk about it accurately and use it in discussion,” explains Alicia Escott. With a big smile she reveals that one of their goals is “to find a word that would unite the concept of nature with that of humanity” by the end of the COP21.

Yet Alicia insists on making it clear that the members of the Bureau of Linguistical Reality “are not linguists, but artists offering people a creative space.” Alicia and Heidi will present a performance at the Gaité Lyrique on December 10th.

Author: Pierre Laurent

Translation: Rachel Robertson

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