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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Lyrical Gestures"
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 18th, 2014 07:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>> Glow-in-the-dark (or UV-sensitive) is *easy*. A pair of parade gloves, available at any costume store or via mail-order, and appropriate fabric paint. <<

If you want it to be fully mobile, glow well, and last more than a few minutes, it's likely to take more effort. Fabric paint tends to be stiff and it will flake if you force it.

>> Now... the other trick is, figuring out how to give glowing fingers definition. Regular fingers have shadows between them that give them definition... I'm kinda thinking just a stripe down each digit, and some sort of treatment for the palm and back of hand so that you can tell the difference... <<

Yes, I don't think it would be necessary to illuminate the entire hand, but rather enough of it to show the shape of words.

>> And you're going to need enough light anyway for the interpreter's face; the expression, I'm given to know, is a very important part of the signing... <<

I assume that's what the glowing necklaces were for.

However, there are different considerations when you start looking at linguistic art like this, compared to ordinary conversation. It's like the difference between conversational sign and sign-singing. Some of the rules change.

As a linguist, I'd be asking, what's going to get lost in a low-light environment, and how can that information be transferred into the forms that remain? Conversely, what are you gaining? This is part of what got me thinking in terms of scat singing, which is about sound and feeling, rather than information. It can have words or parts of words in it, but it's not the same kind of data-dense message as a regular song.

In the dark, you're losing fine dexterity, subtle motions, and some facial expression. You're emphasizing large-scale motions. You're gaining things like light trails and diverse colors, maybe even blinking, depending on the illumination media chosen. One thing facial expression affects is the connotation and emotion. Those are easily suggested, at least in broad groups, by color. A song about passion might be lit in red; a song about sorrow might be lit in blue.

Of course, if you're composing from scratch, you can also choose words that carry well in your current medium. Lyricists learn not to write tongue-twisters by accident, to create songs that are easy to sing and that sound good. Writing lyrics for a lit-glove song would logically require choosing signs that depend on large motions rather than subtle poses or facial expressions. Those signs are like words that make great rhymes -- the ones ending with long flowing vowels: show, fray, high, sea, blue, etc. You'd want to avoid words that are distinguished from similar-looking signs only by small markers. Lots of representational signs would stand up well in this context, because they bear some resemblance to their meaning.
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