“Henge of Light and Language” is a gallery installation which uses principles of ancient geometry to reveal the patterning hidden in the spelling of words. The circle of stones and colored light comprising the henge are a physical model of a uniquely spaced, circular configuration of the alphabet. This installation is related to the permanent site-specific work being developed on Ministers Hill in Bridgton, Maine.
By inscribing lines from letter to letter according to a word’s spelling, a visualization of the patterning of the letter-sequence is created. All variations in imagery result entirely from the spelling of words because the alphabetic configuration is fixed. (Color is referenced because language and color perception are processed in the same part of the brain).
“Henge of Light & Language” and the project on Ministers Hill are an extension of an ongoing project. Michael Winkler has always used the same process (which he developed over 40 years ago) to create his abstract forms — the forms are a spatial depiction of the patterning encoded in the letter-sequences of written words. As mentioned previously, the Roman Alphabet is treated as a circular configuration of 26 letter-points organized around a pentagonal symmetry of vowels. The abstract forms are created by drawing lines which interconnect the letter-points according to the spelling of words. All variations in the imagery result entirely from spelling because the circular configuration of alphabetic points is fixed or constant, it doesn’t change from word to word. The henge is a model of this circular configuration of letter-points.
The project is rooted in the idea that patterns arising from the innate mechanisms of meaningful perception were unintentionally replicated in the signs of language and the modeling of information. The organizing principles underlying these patterns are found both in Nature and in the earliest artifacts of the emergence of the symbolic mind.
Since language is an evolutionary product of human awareness which arises naturally and isn’t designed according to any logical plan, the choices involved are mediated by innate or intuitive factors rather than logical associations. We wouldn’t expect to see any meaningful association between the patterning of the signs for words and their signified concept. If any relationship is evident, we assume it is simply an isolated instance of coincidence. But in fact, an apparent connection between the patterning of the code of the signifier and a meaning associated with the signified concept isn’t uncommon (see hundreds of spelled-forms here). Perhaps Carl Jung’s conception of the existence of a universal synchonicity is correct, or perhaps human beings make meaningful choices intuitively without any intention of doing so. For over 100 years, Ferdinand de Saussure’s assumption that the signs of language are arbitrary has been treated as fact. But new discoveries about the nature of the signs of language indicate that Saussure’s assumption was based on a misunderstanding of how they function (philpapers.org/rec/WINNDS).