Puzzling: New Language Acquisition

The experience of encountering a language you do not understand, with its opacities, surface poetics, and implications of meaning, is central to this program. New Language Acquisition begins by exploring possibilities for linguistic, nonverbal, and spatial communication. Conversely, techniques of deconstruction serve as a means to decode or untether the semiological. What can an image and sound sign? What is deemed legible or illegible? In the words of writer and artist Mel Baggs: “I find it very interesting…that failure to learn your language is seen as a deficit, but failure to learn my language is so natural that people like me are officially described as “mysterious” and “puzzling”, rather than anyone admitting that it is themselves who are confused.”

Rei Hayama with LEVE, Simulation of Impossible, 2017-18, 2 min, sound piece
Oliver Laric, Untitled, 2014-15, 6 min, digital
Keewatin Dewdney, The Maltese Cross Movement, 1967, 8 min, 16mm
Sara Magenheimer, Slow Zoom Long Pause, 2015, 13 min, digital – in person
Paul Glabicki, Object Conversation, 1985, 10 min, 16mm
Wojciech Bakowski, Dry Standpipe, 2012, 12 min, digital
Barbara Hammer, Sync Touch, 1981, 12 min, 16mm


Flaherty NYC’s PUZZLING: About the Series
A puzzle is something puzzling– it expects deduction and solution, while at the same time describes a condition of open confusion. The six-part series “Puzzling” considers these concurrent modes to explore different registers of knowing, the generative possibilities of uncertainty, and the film form as a choreography of sense and stimuli. How can a puzzle, as a challenge and as a structure, destabilize or shape the world? How are the boundaries of sense and non-sense policed? Human and non-human test subjects, compromised figures of authority, and metaphysical detectives populate the series, alongside inquiries on communication, abstraction, and agency.