Akeroyd Collection


Shannon Ebner, Ecstaticalphabet, 2009

Ecstaticalphabet progresses like a stop frame animation. The black and white, fast-paced frames, conjure up individual letters made of arranged breeze blocks on a gridded background. These are combined with grammatical marks, made more graphically in 2 dimensions, that use the gridded surface as their picture plane. The letters come quickly, making the words at times difficult to read or process. Over time, however, a library of words is repeated in varying combinations, allowing the viewer to grasp the essential thrust of their content and to feel equipped to assemble meaning from the barrage of visual and textual information. The words ‘photography’, ‘language’, ‘sentence’, ‘image’, ‘ecstatic’, ‘alphabet’, ‘photograph’, ‘works’ and ‘words’ are spelt out sequentially, and collide to form changing but repetitive sentences. Questions are posed, statements are made.

The structure and pace of delivery are determined by the inclusion of forward strikes, Asterix’s and other grammatical marks. The conflation and relation between words that describe language and words that describe image, determines that these are interconnected components of the mechanics of language. The semiotic and affective qualities of transferring knowledge and information require a confluence of both. This is the performative speech act writ large; that language is not only able to describe the world, but it is what we use to create it, too.This singular phenomenon of language inscribes viewers of this film inside an ecstatic realization. Much like a concrete poem, that uses the full extent of language’s materiality and formal techniques to blur form and function, image, and text, feeling and meaning, the film holds language as subject and image simultaneously. In Ecstaticalphabet, this structure is pushed to its limits to reveal the extent of language's ability to produce the world it also describes.

To read more about this work please see the text by Laura Hoptman in Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language (2012) a catalogue published by MoMA, New York in 2012 to accompany the exhibition of the same name.

MediumSingle-channel video
Duration59 minutes 26 seconds
Editionof 4 + 2 APs