KATA-KATA 2100: Exploring the evolution of our national language, from the past to the future

In collaboration with: Georgetown Festival & Butterworth Fringe Festival 2016
Explorations: The relationship, evolution and future of language

Language, together with Science and Logic, is one of the greatest achievements of the human intellect: it has allowed us to discover a ’permanent collective memory’; better known as writing. Philosopher Epimenides discovered that with the use of language, a person can say everything and its opposite: language is the ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication, and a written language is any specific example of such a system. Thinkers such as Rousseau have argued that language originated from emotions while others like Kant have held that it originated from rational and logical thought.

Malaysia is a nation with a prosperous history, culture, and a rich language: for centuries, the Malay language has progressed through influences of trading, colonisation, the expansion of religion and socio-political developments. From being the lingua franca of South East Asia, to “deyh macha, let’s go makan and yumcha!”

What will be the future of Malaysian language?

Will our ability to process information and communicate them in an era of Big Data and digital technologies mean languages in their traditional forms won’t be needed anymore in the future? The predominance of today’s visually-oriented culture has replaced many alternative communicative mediums, as well as shaping aesthetic and ethic identities based solely on one of our senses and way to perceive and assimilate the reality around us, the sight. Social network; fast-paced consumption of condensed bits of information; the 140 characters of Twitter; Snapchat; Instagram; the Selfie culture … is this eroding language? Or is it transforming language into something new? Academic consensus holds that between 50% and 90% of languages spoken at the beginning of the 21st century will probably have become extinct by the year 2100!

Displayed at Georgetown Festival 2016 and Butterworth Fringe Festival 2016, “KATA-KATA 2100” focuses on re-discovering Malaysia’s linguistic roots and the international influences it has absorbed throughout the many years of cultural experiences. With this project, we hope to discover, appreciate and exhibit an evolution of what the Malaysian language could mature into in the next years to come.

By utilizing language as a tool of empathy, we want the exhibition to make all these connections and an embodiment of cultures visible: our goal with Kata-kata 2100 is to create a meaningful journey into Malaysian cultural identity, using the interactive installation of provocative artefacts that we believe will encapsulate its future to push people to re-discover, re-evaluate and explore different notions of what a language is.


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