Der Zerfall der Sprache
by Franziska Vogel
The Soviet soldier Lev Sasetskij suffered a severe brain injury during World War II, which destroyed his motor and linguistic abilities. From then on, he found it difficult to articulate himself: The words do not come fast enough, the meaning of the words often remains closed to him, grammatical constructions insurmountable obstacles.
Until Lev Sasetskij meets the neuroscientist Alexandr Lurija, he even feels physical pain when trying to remember letters and numbers, trying to read and write. Alexandr Lurija introduces him to the method of automatic writing, in which he is instructed not to think in letters, but to write in one go: „And behold, I had written the word Кров (blood). Even though I hardly knew it myself, since I still had difficulties reading it.“
In order to return to his old self, the 23-year-old Lev Sasetskij begins to write a diary: He collects words by listening to the radio, reading books, listening to the conversations of other people: „I collect these words... Yet I do not write immediately, because I first have to form a sentence. I begin to form it, change it in my mind until it resembles those I have heard or read in normal books.“
The 12-channel audio piece and installation The Decay of Language [Der Zerfall der Sprache] is a polyphonic narrative of this case, in which Lev Sasetsky's diary fragments are juxtaposed with Aleksandr Lurija's scientific research. Language is presented to the listener in its diversity and broken down into the various roles. In the background music, the phonetic level of language is analyzed. The basis for recognizing vowels are formats, frequencies that can be recognized by humans as vowels when they are combined. These frequencies serve as the basis for providing musical accompaniment to the piece. Vowels are reconstructed and deconstructed through frequency modulation in order to form an accompanying melody of the story.
Future of Memories is concerned with the tensionful relations of pasts and futures, compromising everything in between: the lived present, the intensity of presence, the wish to remember things long forgotten and the desire to anticipate and realize – vergegenwärtigen – things not thinkable in the now – and how is artificial intelligence shaping the means and ends of remembrance?
Different artistic and theoretic approaches look at archival practices, mnemonic techniques, storytelling methods and narrative practices in various media and formats.
In her multi channel radio play, Franziska Vogel examines the diversity of language and neurosciences, through A. Lurija's case studies.