Translating Potential Wor(l)ds

Potential Wor(l)ds was conceived as a public project with a digital outcome, but we always imagined that the material in the archive could evolve into different forms.  In 2020, we began to translate Potential Wor(l)ds for gallery presentations.  These haptic objects invite a physical encounter with the sensory language that we continue to build with participants in our workshops.

Potential Wor(l)ds for Soft Bodies, installation view at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, 2020

Potential Wor(l)ds for Soft Bodies
Soft Bodies was a group exhibition at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, in 2020 that brought together works exploring expressions of embodiment in a technologically mediated world.  Responding to the exhibition theme and work by the participating artists, we returned to the Potential Wor(l)ds dictionary to select words that offered an alternative interpretation of Soft Bodies.  The nine words that we chose touch on interactions with technology, relational experiences and bodily sensations, among other connected ideas.

Two of the words selected for Soft Bodies

In the gallery space, nine tablets etched with the wordshapes and resonating with sound from an integrated transducer system are hung on the wall in a loose sentence, or poem.  All the wordsounds play at the same time—looping and falling in and out of sync.  As you get nearer to each tablet, you can hear and feel the specific sounds of that word through the vibration of the surface.  This is a first attempt at using words in the dictionary together to articulate more complex ideas, and to express the meaning of Soft Bodies using the constructed language of Potential Wor(l)ds. 

Potential Wor(l)ds for Soft Bodies, installation view at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, 2020

A booklet which accompanies the tablets brings together the selected wordshapes with their definitions, allowing the audience to interpret the work.  Inserts printed with the prompt There Ought to Be A Word creates an open invitation for viewers to share new potential words inspired by the Soft Bodies exhibition. 
Potential Wor(l)ds for Soft Bodies was exhibited at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, from 16 September 2020 to 1 November 2020.  

Potential Wor(l)ds is a collaboration between Anna Bunting-Branch and Aliyah Hussain, originally commissioned by Bergen Kunsthall.  The project is supported by Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. © Aliyah Hussain, Anna Bunting-Branch and Bergen Kunsthall, 2021.