Mother Tongue


SLS fabricated model of my mother's hands generated with photogrammetric process, digital projection, paper, ink, salt



This piece is part of IMPACT exhibition at the Ohio State University that is dedicated to the topic of immigration.

The most immediate and ongoing experience of immigration for me is the difference in spoken languages. It’s not a matter of proficiency, nostalgia or cultural differences: speaking my native language makes the conversation feel emotionally magnified. Real, palpable, gritty.  After many years of speaking English on a daily basis and following research on bilingualism (such as this one) which addresses this phenomenon it still catches me off guard at times.

Technology has become my new creative tongue, substitution for writing poetry in Russian, an ability that disappeared shortly after immigration, for reasons related to first language attrition as I later realized. Working with technology is my other immigration as I stubbornly persist in efforts to achieve human like spontaneity and emotional expression through the heightened artifice of the digital media.


Technical Notes

The model was generated with Autodesk Photofly, edited in Autodesk Maya and fabricated via Shapeways.


“Not to speak your own mother tongue. To live with sounds, logics, that are separated from the nocturnal memory of the body, from the sweet-sour sleep of childhood. To carry within yourself like a secret crypt or like a handicapped child - loved and useless - the language of once-upon-a-time that fades and won’t make up its mind to leave you ever. You learn to use another instrument, like expressing yourself in algebra or on the violin. You can become a virtuoso in this new artifice that provides you with a new body, just as false, sublimated - some would say sublime. You have the impression that the new language is your resurrection: a new skin, a new sex. But the illusion is torn apart when you listen to yourself - on a recorded tape, for example - and the melody of your own voice comes back to you in a bizarre way, from nowhere, closer to the grumble of the past than to the [linguistic] code of today... Thus between two languages, your element is silence”.

~Julia Kristeva

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