Herman Deceuninck, active in the Esperanto movement, wrote two articles as a response to the exposition Van Toverlantaarn tot Multimedia (1) and on the publication Religie, Filosofie en Semantiek (2), one in the magazine MONATO (in Esperanto) and the other in the magazine Horizontaal (in Dutch).

During the festival Van Toverlantaarn tot Multimedia (24-26/3/’94) I made a remarkable discovery. Mr Ferre Alpaerts and Ms Inez Michiels wanted to show by means of 105 slides that a natural link exists between consonances, forms and colours. Behind the languages hides a universal code. Behind all sign systems hides a logical structure. Is there a possiblity of a scripture of which the signs refer to words, comparable to the Chinese scripture, but then entirely systematic? This seemed to me an interesting idea to be considered.

To start with, a little word of explanation concerning the disciplines on which their insight has been based on. In contrast to semiotics (sign teaching) which is tracing and arranging signs and their external, referring meaning, the main point of semantics (sign meaning) is the universal consistency of all signs and their inner, codic meaning. Starting point of Genetic Semantics (where their analysis more specifically is about) is, that the language ability (this means largely the use of language and signs) relies in all its aspects and components on genetic encoding.

Hereditary code

Just like each form of ‘mental life’ (of a sensual, emotional as an intellectual nature), also language is originated from the oldest signs by evolution, viz. the hereditary code found in DNA.  For the transfer of hereditary characteristics, all well-known living beings use the same chemical code which exists out of four ‘characters’, which correspond to the vowels a, e, i and o. According to Genetic Semantics the inner signs which are referred to are also ‘the characters’ and ‘the words’ of the DNA (the genetic code). The codic meaning of words was set out in a semantic dictionary, of which a second edition is in preparation and which would contain 6000 words (also on computer disc), classified according to the genetic code, among others on the foundation of the sound form in several languages. Different languages don’t always use the universal genetic code in the same manner. For this reason some words can only be translated with difficulty. A codic e.g. musical reproduction of a text and its translation would clarify many of those difficulties. Nevertheless it must be possible to reproduce the inner meaning of words and word links graphically, musically or e.g. through body movements (like in eurhythmics) via genetic encoding.

Colour, shape and vowels

Since 1991 Inez Michiels has come up with the idea to reproduce these genetic words by means of musical and coloured graphic shapes (in sum there are 64 possible combinations) that can be compared mutual with each other. Of these 64 shape and colour combinations, as a matter of fact, was made a very beautiful screen print poster in 8 colours. One is able to consider it as a splendid example of how language and art can be transformed to an artistic whole.

SCREENPRINT 64 shapes and colour combinations
SCREENPRINT 64 shapes and colour combinations

Perhaps a possibility exists here too, for example by supporting a word in several languages, mutually coloured – graphically and musically. The link that is laid by Genetic Semantics between phonetic forms and colour is also retrieved in the scientific study of Eva Heller into the functioning of colours.
Another fascinating idea to bring art and language with each other in accordance seems to me for example the tonal development according to Genetic Semantics in several language versions of the poem Language by Maja Pnajotova, a Bulgarian living in Antwerp. This language can be raised to art, proved for example also by the artist Gaston De Mey with its multilingual letter structures as a sign of the internationalisation of culture. (Workshop Gaston De Mey, Eeklo).

Computer programme

Finally it must also be mentioned that there is thought about a computer programme, where colours, graphic forms, music, body postures and movements, as well as words and word associations are reflected by genetic code signs, united within a user friendly whole. This programme must allow the user to modify the parameters of one sign system and to follow the effects of it on other systems, to compose ranges or to interpret them etc..
A summary of the methods of Genetic Semantics has also been explained in the book Religie, Filosofie en Semantiek (2), in which 17 subjects from the history of philosophy are dealt with.

Notes on English translation

(1) Van Toverlantaarn tot Multimedia. Literally: from projector to multimedia, exposition organised by the Karel De Grote Hogeschool, Antwerp, in which Inez Michiels and Ferre Alpaerts participated.
(2) Religie, Filosofie en Semantiek. Translation: Religion, Phylosophy and Semantics.

MONATO (magazine in Esperanto)

The magazine Horizontaal (in Dutch).