Detlef Hartung – Georg Trenz


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WORTSCATZ – LEBENSZEICHEN
rheinpartie
Rock of Loreley


 

Everyone is familiar with the hit lists of the most beautiful words, of threatened words, of the un–words of the year, of the contaminated words: Sinneswandel (change of heart), Geistesblitz (brainstorm), Augenblick (moment), Sehnsucht (yearning), Fürsprache (advocacy), Zeitlupe (slow motion), Fernweh (wanderlust), Habseligkeit (belongings), Kulturbeutel (toiletries bag), Denkungsart (way of thinking), Wertarbeit (fine worksmanship), Sommerfrische (summer resort), Reiseruf (emergency call to traveller), Rennpappe ('racing pasteboard', a reference to the Trabant car), Papperlapapp (hogwash), Laufpass (roughly: 'the order of the boot'), Augenstern ('the apple of ones eye'), Dauerlauf (endurance run), and Sendeschluss (end of transmission), but also Dunkeldeutschland ('dark Germany', a negative term for East Germany), Gewinnwarnung (profit warning), Humankapital ('human capital'), Besserverdienende (higher earners), Ausreisezentrum (departure centre) or Freisetzung (release).
These words are heard year in, year out in the media and in places of popular discussion, bearing popular witness to the transformation and evolution of the German language and its very rich lexicon.
 


 

Language is constantly in flux: it adapts, reinvents itself, responds to the zeitgeist, to events and to social developments. It is very difficult to know how lively or listless the flow of a language is, how fruitful or devastating its implications are, how regulated or natural the path in which it runs is, or what it leaves washed up on the shore in its wake. Only when one pauses, lifts oneself out of this movement and lets it pass on by does it reveal its true character. Then, the rushing sound of language surrounds us like the rushing sound of the river. What splashes away harmlessly one minute may become a devastating primal force the next!
 


 


 

Words are like water: they can swirl around something, can make it grow or destroy it. Equally, any word may acquire new connotations, depending upon linguistic usage and its freight of meanings.
 


 


 

More than any other German landscape feature, the Loreley rock in the Rhine embodies the polarity of beauty and catas-trophe, of harmony and shipwreck. Not for nothing has it been the subject of lyric poetry, literature and music throughout the ages, and a favoured spot for German mythology and romanticism. The Loreley has become a source of words and of language, one which reflects the German language.


 


 


 


 

In this projection, two PANI slide projectors project still images of a succession of words and terms from linguistic terminology onto the Lorelei rock. Two additional projectors are equipped with film drives that permit text to pass horizontally over the rock walls, like a ticker tape text.


 


 


 

This is a river of words of different sizes and meanings, flowing downstream, accompanying the Rhine for a brief stretch. The way the lines lie one atop the other cause one to read them in a jumping, non–linear way. Each word can come together with other words to create new meanings.
All of the different levels and codes of the German language sweep past the viewer at the same speed as the Rhine, representing, in fragmentary form, the way in which we think and speak today.
A complex meditation on language, word formation and language development, inspired by a place, a rock, a landscape, a river.
Language flows!


 


 

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