Geoluread & Genie, 2017

Single screen, 16:9, HD animation & 16mm transferred to digital, stereo sound

This work is a digital moving image file (.mov) Edition of 5 + 2 A.P.

Duration: 4 min

Hand processed 16mm film from a Spanish region famed for its orange exports. Orange being the running thread and catalyst to the work, the framework of the film is the relationships between language, culture and cognition.

The fragments of type that flash across the screen are the four known words that Genie Wiley (the feral child) could speak when taken into custody by the state in 1970:


The phonetic utterances are sounds from Láadan : a feminist constructed language created in 1982 by Suzette Haden Elgin in her science fiction book Native Tongue. The language was constructed to test the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, specifically to determine if development of a language aimed at expressing the views of women would shape a culture; a subsidiary hypothesis was that Western natural languages may be better suited for expressing the views of men than women. Láadan contains a number of words that are used to make unambiguous statements that include how one feels about what one is saying. According to Elgin, this is designed to counter male-centered language's limitations on women.

The earliest etymological usage of orange as a word in English refers to the fruit; the colour was later named after the fruit. Before the English-speaking world was exposed to the fruit, the colour was referred to as yellow-red or geoluread in Old English or red-yellow.

Genie was the pseudonym for a feral child who was a victim of severe abuse, neglect, and social isolation. Her circumstances are prominently recorded in the annals of linguistics and abnormal child psychology. The extent of Genie's isolation prevented her from being exposed to any significant amount of speech, and as a result she did not acquire language during childhood.