Channel 4 Random Acts: A Flowering Theory

This is a project that starts with data, but then becomes something slightly different at the end.

I’ve always been interested in language and literature, and much of my previous work revolves around the visualisation of text, where I’ve worked with themes, paragraphs, words and the like to create visual representations of a piece of literature. However, I’ve never created work with the invisible grammar that holds a sentence together, and this film presented an opportunity to explore this subject further.

Using the well-known ‘entangled bank’ passage from the conclusion of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (a text I enjoy working with), I converted the passage’s grammatical structure of interconnected nouns, verbs, and other word types into an ‘entangled bank’ of visualised words and grammar. The structure was based on the traditional Reed-Kellogg diagramming I learned in school.

Abbie Stephens art-directed and animated this film, taking my static visualisations and breathing life into them through her translation of the flat graphics into a sewn paper, stop motion animation. This group of ‘grammar plants’ grow and flower, alluding to how Darwin’s theory first took root and then flourished, changing how we as humans see our place in the world.

A Flowering Theory was commissioned by Protein as part of Channel 4 Random Acts.