October 5, 2019

Do we still control the alphabet?

Do we still control the alphabet?

Thomas Keyes, 34

The alphabet that first reached these islands with missionaries was part of an elite religious ritual that required interpretation by a chosen few, word division and vernacular literacy were first developed here by insular monks whose expertise was sought by Charlemagne in controlling his empire leading to the growth of literacy and the dominance of literate thought in Europe. The ‘reading of minds’ through confession, the legal power invested in written documentation over oral testimony in the middle ages and the advent of printing have all marked steps forward for the alphabet at the expense of other cultural forms. Now in the digital age with entire lives documented online and the real possibility of reaching technological singularity the reach of the tool that is the alphabet is so pervasive that it appears benign, will it still need us when the machines we depend upon become immortal?
This piece is created on parchment using techniques and symbolism from the Book of Kells with the addition of graffiti styles and markers. The green pigment, ‘verdigris’ or copper acetate is present in both the original manuscripts that warn of apocalypse and offer immortality and the most advanced circuitry that threatens consciousness.

Singularity, 2019Parchment and traditional pigments with graffiti markers46x36cm