WORDS Multimedia Work

Brian Dailey’s WORDS project is the creative summation of a 7-year odyssey (2012- 2019) that took him to 131 countries. Working in an international geopolitical landscape undergoing tumultuous and historic changes over the evolution of this project, Dailey visited public and private venues on all 7 continents in every region of the world. The exhibition is the international inaugural of the project in its entirety and showcases WORDS video installation, Words on WORDS, a 13 lenticular series of panels, and the print series, Tous Les Mots.

WORDS is the artist’s investigation into globalization and its effect on key human structures of language, society, culture, and environment. In each country, Dailey set up his camera with green-screen backdrop and invited random individuals to participate. Participants were asked 13 words in their native languages: peace, war, love, environment, freedom, religion, democracy, government, happiness, socialism, capitalism, future, and United States. Each person responded—in a single word—with a first impression and selected a background flag reflecting his or her societal allegiance.

The WORDS video is a time-based art project that engages the viewers in present day issues while invoking a communal sense among global citizens. WORDS reveals the differences in the perceptions of key concepts of society. As in poetry, a word has many meanings and associations. What we think is understood, such as a common meaning of the word War, can be personal, unique, and even reflective. Our experiences and social and cultural environments can thus be very deterministic, more so than our common reading of a typical dictionary definition of a word.

We have a new kind of internationalization and tension between the haves’ and have nots. In WORDS we have a global dialogue of substantive words expressing an assortment of personal meanings. That said, rather than just highlighting the tensions and conflicts of the world, the WORDS video evokes a sense of unification among global citizens bringing-to-mind the cultural and linguistic dimensions of the Tower of Babel and the political and progressive structure of the 1920 Russian artwork, Tatlin’s Tower. The video work is an engaging testament to the contemporary issues of our time.

WORDS: On-site interviews / conversations

Since its inception in 2012, more than 131 countries on seven continents were visited in making this art project. Critical in the project’s success were the local guides who facilitated the selection of locations, recruited passersby to participate, and conducted interviews in the native languages of their respective countries. These conversations with guides in Uganda, Ghana, and Kazakhstan provide a window into the issues and observations of the project and its making.