How To Get There From Here

By Andrew C. Smith


Language, like music, cannot communicate meaning without substance. There’s the material, and then the semantic baggage which only develops through usage and historical context. The sound of language changes how we interpret its meaning, but the meaning of the words determines how we speak them in everyday practice.

How To Get There From Here transforms the phrase “we remember not the word, but the sound of the word” in three movements. The first is drawn from 1,600 segments of speech arranged first as a fixed media electronic composition through stochastic principles and then transcribed as International Phonetic Alphabet symbols for human performance. The second is a transformation on the spelled words themselves, moving from one word to the next by making simple edits: adding, removing, or editing letters. This final movement is constructed entirely of quotations from English texts ranging in date from the 14th to 20th centuries.