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Before A Word Is Spoken

Richard Foreman, of the Ontologico-Hysteric Theater talks about the quest to lose context. So much of the work currently going on in the Network has to do with identifying the context of some artifact of text, sound or image. We look to machines to identify the contexts floating around our speech.  As an artist, Foreman is uninterested in echoing back the dominant story the culture wants to tell itself. He asks if there can be meaning outside of the well worn pathways of speech and cultural practice.

Alphabets are an arbitrary set of symbols that are meant to correspond to an arbitrary set of phonemes. We use this codec to encode experiences, and then translate and transmit them to others using the same codec. These experiences can be real or imaginary. The method of transfer requires a willing suspension of disbelief – the artifacts of the message have an arbitrary relationship to the experience. The message is not the experience– we use metaphors to do this work.

The term derives from Greek μεταφο?ά (metaphora), or “transference”, from μεταφέ?ω (metaphero) “to carry over, to transfer” and that from μετά (meta), “between” + φέ?ω (phero), “to bear, to carry”.

Foreman’s theater relies on image, rhythm, tone and energy to transfer its messages. These are elements that have come the forefront in the post-literate communications surging through the Network. It’s like understanding the meaning of a rock and roll song without actually knowing the words.

Published in culture performance theater