This was the first time I had photographed a presenter giving a workshop in sign language. Those who know American Sign Language (ASL) can guess what Dr. Dennis Cokely was talking about. Those who don’t know ASL– well, they can have even more fun guessing. I don’t want to give away the content of his workshop to those who know ASL; rather, I encourage them to take his workshop themselves! As for those who don’t know ASL, there would be so much lost in translation if I simply said, “Dr. Cokely is signing X,” that I would be guilty of oversimplifying his message. And his workshop “Interpreting Culturally Rich Realities” is all about not oversimplifying any interpretation! I thank Dr. Cokely for his permission to photograph him as he worked.
While I don’t want to give too much of his workshop away, I do want to use these photos to help myself and others who took his workshop recall some of this repeated points. One of the things Dr. Cokely repeatedly discussed was having multiple lexical items in one’s “mental files” to choose from when confronted with signs or words that represented “culturally rich realities,” or words that are not easily conveyed from one culture/language to another in a 1:1 ratio.
As a photographer of a speaker presenting in ASL, I used the textual analysis and predictive skills I’ve developed as an interpreter to study Dr. Cokely’s rhetorical devices so that I would be prepared with my camera to capture him at the very moment when he would repeat one of his themes. As an instructor, he was very deft at using repetition to drive home a point.
You may view my set of photos of Dennis Cokely on Flickr.