Deepti Vechalekar

Hand gestures

Hand gestures simultaneously contain expression, semiotic context, and performance, which makes them a particularly culturally specific language. My final project, composed of two simultaneous projections of video/text pairings, explores the ambiguous nature of these gestures by juxtaposing culturally different but similar hand gestures with found language. The project’s open-ended nature gives viewers the opportunity to create their own connections and invent their own stories while providing space for the individual interpretation of each gesture’s meaning.

The definitions used to describe each gesture are drawn from historical sources; the video footage of hand gestures is taken from popular culture. In combination, these juxtapositions — which at times refute, and at times support one another — give the project a humorous, even satirical quality. Similarly, my thesis book presents the same narrative in two languages, and from two orientations. The project aims to question what a culture considers normal and abnormal by drawing attention to the similar forms but contradictory meanings of hand gestures from a range of cultures.