Visual Vernacular and Music
I asked Douglas Ridloff who is a founder and director of ASL Slam (American Sign Language) to come up with a minute’s story using visual vernacular about the Solider and the fly. While the solider is doing a very serious job of marching away, a fly comes in causing nuisance. Visual vernacular is a theatrical art form of physical expression, story telling with strong sense of body movements, iconic signs, gestures and facial expressions.
Douglas sent me this video done by recording it on his mobile phone all the way from Brooklyn, New York via WhatsApp. By watching him I composed it for Sean Chandler in mind, a professional trumpet player. I’ve seen a lot of brass instruments in a marching band so it made a perfect fit. Sean read my score and performed it in time with VV filming it on his phone too. By putting the two clips together, I wanted to show that trumpet playing can demonstrate the highly stylised visual art form with natural march timings while seamlessly shifting characters of the solider, the gun and the fly.
Sometimes I question myself ‘What is musicality’ if you’re deaf? For those who do not use VV or signed language will see that music can bring home to the fact that the use of sign language is often very musical. Sean’s playing powerfully illustrate these ideas, the dimensions and emotions running throughout the visual vernacular performance. That’s musicality. Both artists are Deaf too.
Douglas Ridloff says VV is like “cinematic structure”.
Visual-manual language employs cinematic techniques in a four-dimensional environment: cuts, angles, and zooms, etc. These devices are commonly and richly used in storytelling and poetry. Just as imagery is used in English poetry and novels, visual-manual language takes the opportunity of manipulating imagery in four-dimensional space time. In another word “cinespace”.
Here are some information about the guys in the clip
Douglas is a proud resident of Brooklyn, USA. He likes: black coffee, street art and denim. He does: poetry, storytelling, emceeing and freestyling, all in Sign Language. He is: a fearless visual artist, a poet, a performer, the owner and executive director of ASL SLAM, a monthly open mic event that is much more than just open mic, and isn’t just happening in NYC but also in D.C. and Chicago. Lately he has been: curating performances at museums such as the Whitney Museum, the Jewish Museum, SITE Santa Fe and 9/11 Memorial Museum. He believes: that Sign Language is something that can be done straight or way out there—doesn’t matter, as long there’s a stage and the freedom of language. He is the currently the ASL Consultant for Paramount Pictures film, A Quiet Place
About Sean Chandler trumpet:
Sean has a severe hearing loss as a result of contracting meningitis aged 3 months and wears two hearing aids. He has been playing trumpet and cornet for over 20 years. Qualifying in 2010 as a music teacher, he is a freelance musician, educator and workshop leader. A former solo cornet player with the national Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, he has performed all over the UK at prestigious venues such as Westminster Abbey and at Buckingham Palace -The Queen’s residence in London with the BBC as a part of ‘Goldie’s Band, by Royal Appointment’.