As ever more sophisticated communication gadgetry embeds itself deeper into daily life, the means of conveying meaning—words, images and symbols—have changed the way we use and understand language. Gone are the puritan days of grammatically correct usage; the age of social networking and instant messaging calls for faster, more direct transfers of information. For logophiles and other language-inclined individuals, the free-form nature of this truncated, emoticon-rich, new-tech lingua franca may be equally fascinating and traumatic. Nonetheless, the fundamentals of communication remain the same: it’s all about symbols and meanings.
Alan Flint gets back to those basics in “Look Power,” a three-part exhibition of silkscreen works designed to reassess the historical and contemporary processes of communication. In his Primer Series, Flint culls imagery from early 20th century schoolbooks to critically expose a questionable subtext of themes and pedagogies connected to gender, servitude, vocational training and other surprisingly constant social expectations. For Sentimental Series, Flint adds a veil of letters and unrelated text fragments drawn from quotidian sources such as telephone directories to effectively demystify the object power of classical landscape and figurative images. Flint’s Badge Magic series challenges the accepted authority of language and symbols in what he calls the juxtaposed “information systems” of various police force badges superimposed with iconography from witchcraft and magic spells. (24 James St, St Catharines ON)
In all, Flint’s word and image plays clearly demonstrate that even as time and technology necessarily shift the rules of communication, the core building blocks of language are equally adaptable and powerfully consistent purveyors of meaning.