More Than Words

Author: Anna Dziapshipa
Edition: Communication

Reconstructing childhood memories is my favorite activity. I try my best to evoke them, bring them to surface, shape them in images and sounds. A few months ago, I have decided to rebuild my fragmented memory by digitizing old videotapes. Piles of outdated VHS tapes were overflowing my desk. I went through them meticulously - rewinding some, but mostly watching each and every one of them from beginning till end. Through them, I came across Russian dubbed movies, home-made videos and music clips recorded from MTV music channel. Some of my missing memories were fully reconstructed during those viewings. Through my efforts to glean the past, I discovered one important video -  a damaged magnetic tape, which served as the inspiration for this project.

This experimental video features a video speech tutorial, developed in 2001 by the Georgian branch of Internews, an international nonprofit news and media development organization, together with the book “Issues in Speech Theory and Practice.” The material, authored by Manana Berikashvili, essentially guided journalists through the maze of words and their use, and the video tutorial was specifically intended for correspondents.  It thus features precisely those words that the media would employ most often - parliament, coup d’etat, soldier, bomb, clash, war. Then - as well as today.

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan famously said that “the medium is the message.”  This video too is a message of its era - encapsulating the 1990s, with its style, quality and content. However, it has a contemporary weight - in today’s “post-truth” world we struggle to understand what words really mean, the information we receive at times loses sense, it becomes non-sense, void, absurd.

This forgotten footage has triggered a chain of associations, intersecting with my personal experience of history, which in many ways is also part of a collective one. Ultimately, it highlights the importance and conditionality of speech and language - more generally, the thin and blurry line between meaning and absurdity. Surprisingly enough, the most meaningful combination of words in this video are tongue twisters -  they inadvertently work as political metaphors.

Ultimately, this patchwork of sounds and images brings to mind a famous statement by philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: “The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.”


Video Source

Berikashvili, Manana. "Issues in Speech Theory and Practice". 2001. Video Tutorial 

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