Archive for November, 2009

reading traces

November 25, 2009

“Writing, like human language, is engendered not only within the human community but between the human community and the animate landscape, born of the interplay and contact between the human and the more than human world. The earthly terrain in which we find ourselves, and upon which we depend from our nourishment, is shot through with suggestive scrawls and traces, from the sinuous calligraphy of rivers winding across the land, inscribing arroyos and canyons into the parched earth of the desert, to the black slash burned by lightning into the trunk of an old elm. The swooping flight of birds is a kind of cursive script written on the wind; it is this script that was studied by the ancient “augurs” who could read therein the course of the future. Leaf-miner insects make strange hieroglyphic tabloids of the leaves they consume. Wolves urinate on specific stumps and stones to mark off their territory. And today you read these printed words as tribal hunters once read the tracks of deer, moose, and bear printed in the soil of the forest floor. Archaeological evidence suggests that for more than one million years the subsistence of humankind has depended upon the acuity of such hunters, upon their ability to read the traces – a bit of scat here, broken twig there – of these animal Others. These letters I print across the page, the scratches and scrawls you now focus upon, trailing off across the white surface, are hardly different from the footprints of prey left in the snow. We read these traces with organs honed over millennia by our tribal ancestors moving instinctively from one track to the next, picking up the trail afresh whenever it leaves off, hunting the meaning, which would be the meeting with the Other.”

This is a quote from David Abram (1996) The Spell of the Sensuous. New York, Random House. To him the alphabet “is a strange and potent technology”.


inscribing meaning

November 24, 2009

The Color of Words IX

Currently I have no time for blogging nor for reading blogs, and I miss it. I googled “i miss my blog” and there are over 2.5 million entries, so I guess other people feel the same way, at least some times. So here is just a quickie posting The Color of Words by Ethiopian Artist Wosene Worke Kosrof and Samira’s Story by Fathi Hassan from Egypt taken from here: Inscribing Meaning: Writing an Graphic Systems in African Art

Wosene Worke Kosrof considers his recent works to be investigations into a new alphabet, one that employs a vocabulary of signs and symbols to link past with present, and Africa with the diaspora in which he works and lives. Drawing upon Ethiopian graphic systems, liturgical symbols and architectural forms as well as pan-African motifs, the artist produces richly colored and detailed canvases. Wosene’s fascination with words and the seductive forms of written signs are contemplated alongside other investigations of language and identity within modern histories of Africa.

Samira’s Story

In his works Fathi Hassan often addresses the power relations between oral practices and the written word. He places particular emphasis on the plight of lost languages, such as that of ancient Nubia, through the domination of those imposed by colonial-era policies. Most of his scripts are deliberately illegible, invented forms that allude to Arabickufic calligraphy but yield little direct information. By playing graphic symbolism against literal meaning, Hassan questions the largely Western assumption that the written word provides the best access to reality.

superman’s secret

November 9, 2009


from Fighting Crime one Post at a Time

I love this image with the WordPress Logo on Superman’s chest. And here is a hello to Richard and Sheela (approaching 70!) who have recently bought a computer and logged on to the net for the first time. Welcome to the wonderful world wide web!

die uni brennt (university burning)

November 2, 2009


What started as a small student protest in one of Vienna’s Art Academy a week ago, has spread like wildfire (sic!) through Austrian unversities, with up to a thousand students squatting in lecture halls, organizing work groups and task forces, and their own learning. There was a large protest march with 10.000-40.000 (depending on the sources) people marching through the streets of Vienna last week. The hub of action is Austria’s largest lecture hall, the Audimax in the Univerits of Vienna, the very place where fourty years ago student protests and subsequent political and cultural changes originated. Now the grandchildren of the bearded 1968 generation, a generation of young people habitually accused for not being interested in politics is taking action.

Every day there is a full programme of talks, discussions, plenary sessions, music concerts and occasional flashmobs organized by the students, and after a full week it looks like they are here to stay for a while, unless the state will intervene with police force.

Not surprisingly the movement is using Web 2.0 technologies in organizing themselves and in gathering external support. They have set up wikis for the organisation, blogs, a press office. You can read their first press release in English here. Photos are posted on unibrennt pool on Flickr and there is a life stream were you can follow the daily plenary sessions. Last night there were 1700-1800 people watching online, when the people in the hall issued a call for university students in Gemany to join the movement. The faceegroup support group has accumulated over 23.000 fans, and it is all over twitter #unibrennt or #unsereuni #audimax. Comparisons with the grassroots campaign for Obama are being drawn in mainstream papers.

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