Marks & Signs

How can we know that an ‚X‘ is actually a letter and not just a crisscross mark on a slip of paper or on a shard of pottery? This is most certainly a question an archaeologist would ask at an excavation site. Every piece of ceramic that has been carefully extracted from the debris might show scratches that could either be part of a written message or merely traces of the craftsman’s tool having no meaning whatsoever. Thus, how can we know that a sign is actually a sign carrying a meaning?

The idea of making this game came to me some ten years ago. We were on our way home after visiting an artist’s book fair. We took a break in our journey and sat in a café of some service station somewhere along the motorway, when suddenly there it was – that lovely ‘light-globe moment’ when inspiration strikes – I could almost see the finished result in front of me: 80 cards in 40 pairs … and each letter of the alphabet used twice…I’d use old style Black Letter design … pairing the modern faces of serif, slab, sans, hand…and….

I wanted that every letter be entirely stripped of any context. It had to stand-up entirely on its own, giving the rational brain no possibility of ‘cheating’ by guessing from the context, which sign it might be. So I decided to have square cards with the singled out letter printed right in the centre.

 

Looking at one of these cards is a rudimentary experience. In fact you may not immediately know whether the letter is being held and looked at upside down. Using these cards will somehow force you into looking more closely at the characteristic features of every single letter in the Alphabet, with which we are all so familiar and which is an intrinsic part of our daily lives. But singled out and stripped from any context these letters might no longer appear so common and familiar. I have created a game that makes us consider aspects of our daily lives we normally don’t even bother to think about.

All cards are housed in an especially made Beechwood box with sliding lid. The cards are printed letterpress from metal type and exactly the same metal type has been used to print a sheet showing all the correct pairings. The cards are made from strong bookbinder’s board and have either a green or red reverse side. There is, of course, a list with the names of the fonts used and a sheet explaining the basic rules. However, everyone using these cards can feel free to invent his or her own version of the ‘Rules of the Game’.

 

The game has been printed in a limited edition of 44 numbered and signed copies.

 

 

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