X-Bar Theory

XP -> (SPEC) X̅ YP* - X-bar theory 

I am exploring how we can break down the human form into modular fragments of meaning that allow for ever-variable ‘sentences’ of visual language. The X-bar theory (Chomsky, 1970) offers a schema of syntax that all languages abide by. Like language, compositions use elements that possess innate meaning, like the human form. If visual composition is treated like language (as a ‘discrete combinatorial system’*) there is a point to which one can fragment an image where meaning is retained in a concentrated form - such as a hand or a head. The fragments, like words, can be reassembled in infinite variations to produce legible meaning, playing on both the viewers’ associations and the homonymic nature of the fragments.

This modular triptych gives a set of visual elements, each possessing internal meaning, that tell a more complex narrative together. The piece is designed to be rearranged (both in the orientation of the canvases and in the order/direction they are hung) to enable different meanings of that narrative.

The body of work is my attempt to systematically distill the modularity of meaning in visual language that I believe is innate to our reading of visual art.

*A discrete combinatorial system uses a finite number of discrete elements to generate an infinite number of combinations.

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