According George Lakoff, author of Philosophy In The Flesh, human communication is always already mediated. Our emotions, our past and the memories it carries, cannot be separated from it. He says, “The mind is inherently embodied.” Because of our flesh, our multi-sensory perception, and our personal experiences, our communications engage with much more than transparent information.

stuttering, one of four interactive installations in the Body Language suite – developed and shown in dialogue with people who stutter – proposes a space which accents how we effect, and are affected by, conversation and comprehension. It suggests that stillness and stumbling play a role in the un/realized potentials of memory and storytelling. Each viewer in the space triggers a large-scale interactive art object projected on the wall in front them. This projection is broken into a Mondrian-like mirror, where each sub-section, initialized by body-tracking software, animates quotes and passages about stutterers, situations in which stuttering, in its broadest sense, is common, and suggestions of when and where we should “make stutters,” in order to break “seamless” communication; every animation is accompanied by an audio recitation of its text.

stuttering thus creates an intense environment through its inescapable barrage of stuttering sound and visual stuttering: noise. Only by lessening their participation will the information explosion slow into an understandable text for the viewer. The piece asks them not to interact, but merely to listen. Their minimal movements, and the phrases they trigger, literally create new meaning.

The spaces between speaking and listening, between language and the body, add to the complex experience of communication. stuttering is not displaying data, but rather, pushing us to explore these practices of speaking and listening. It suggests that communication comes to and from us, in ways that even we do not fully comprehend.