Tuesday, April 17, 2007

eight symbols...

earlywriting

beautiful little image depicting 8 symbols invented by fo-hi circa 2800 BC. from the story of the alphabet by edward clodd 1928.

the lines are pictorial representations of knotted cords that were used before the invention of writing. "the number and distances of the knots served as conventional mnemonics, and also as imperial records until written characters replaced them". these were the first characters to symbolize words based on the cord knot system.

of course, this little op art box represents some very serious words. i really love how the various arrangements of continuous and broken lines feel like an agnes martin painting - particularly as these simple lines are connected to both landscape and belief.

the lines are also reminiscent of graphic notational music scores, almost like a key of permutations for a lengthier work.

lastly, both the words and the lines remind me a bit of ian hamilton finlay's text works. like finlay's best concrete poetry, if one reads the list outloud there are all kinds of spoken sounds the words share, and there is a hint of narrative (from heaven to earth). there is also an added dimension to the fact that even though the line sequences are based on abstract notational knots in string; they somehow begin to feel "representational" in relation to the words connected to them.

it's nice when an illustration ceases to illustrate and becomes it's own path of various references and wanderings...

Labels: , , , , ,

4 Comments:

Blogger the art of memory said...

this is the kind of poetry i like,
always like just to look at this stuff not knowing what it means,
are you going to use this as a score for your cd?

10:16 AM  
Blogger greg davis said...

that reminds me of hexagrams lines of the I Ching.

imagine if we all only communicated by using knotted cord systems. thatd be wild.
i wonder what the knotted cord pattern is for LISTEN.

1:48 PM  
Blogger kclare said...

What a delicate and beautiful image… very like Martin’s Starlight! Indeed, I could almost imagine the writing to be hers as well (the beginning of one of her amazing essays about perfection)… The knots remind me of fishing, which somehow remind me of Finlay… or maybe just Scotland.

4:55 PM  
Blogger sroden said...

yes! it's always amazing when something like this can have so many associations and potentials! indeed it would be beautiful to see a knotted cord for listen. reminds me... i have a book of indian sign language that i used to generate some drawings, and the activity for listen was so beautiful - i have to dig it out and post it...

8:13 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home