Arnhem, February 18, 2022

Dear S.

In response to your request for a description of our work in Werkplaats Typografie:

Apart from different commissions and many scattered quick/small projects, my work has taken two main directions since I landed in Werkplaats Typografie in October 2020.

Last year in Zaandam (in the windy harbor of Amsterdam) I worked on kites, building and flying them. I was interested in kites as almost magical (they fly…) technical objects anyone can build by themselves with so little (what an emancipating quality). I was interested in them as image carriers (sort of flying posters, non-territorial flags higher than a flag) and in their ability to display images from afar (in a Covid-stricken world). I was not the only one who shared this interest: kites flown from rooftops had became so ubiquitous in the skies of Cairo during the lockdown that el-Sisi’s paranoid government had recently banned them.

I eventually built a series of kites from discarded (I consider trash to be our biggest treasure) silkscreen printing meshes I collected from printshops around Zaandam, for the silkscreen nylon mesh mimics silk which was the material that allowed to build the first kites in China. I was specifically looking for meshes with visible “ghost images” (technical term that describes traces left in a mesh of the images printed using this mesh). I hoped to highlight the technical processes that produce these images (I proudly “identify” as a craftperson) and to expose a little corner of the local cultural zeitgeist they tell us about. And I may not believe in ghosts (or in anything really) it is always a pleasure to help them fly, even more so collectively.

More recently I have been working on board games and their connexions with language, and the connexions of language with logic, and the connexions of logic with emancipating politics. One of my starting point is the evolution of board games, like languages, as they travel through cultures (see the evolution of pachisi into barjis, parchís, parcheesi, jeu des petits chevaux, Ludo, Mensch ärgere Dich nicht, fēixíng qí, jeu de tock…). I am fascinated and puzzled by how the (beautiful) designs of these board games emerge, in different visual cultures, from the simple rules of the game and the tensions/relations they draw between esthetics and pure functionalism.

I am connecting these interests with Galileo’s writings on games (see On the secrets of dices), how they formalize exemplary mathematical logic and how this logical thinking would lead Galileo to oppose (risking his life and more importantly his ideas) the main obscurantist and authoritarian system of his time. This may lead me towards redesigning Galileo’s typographical representations of the stars from his essay Starry Messenger, or this may lead me towards publishing texts of other anti-authoritarian logicians such as Bertrand Russell, or this may lead me towards designing or redesigning games. This is a work in progress that I intend to formalize with the mental help of Spring.

This latter research must also be read within an underlying political desire of mine to respond to contemporary positions that criticize logic, reason and science for being tools of class elitism, Western-suprematism and colonialism, or responsible for the environmental crisis. Most often than not, I even witness proponents of these violent ideologies deceivingly endorsing the idea of logic. In this conversation I want to defend logical thinking as a radical tool of left-wing emancipation, both of individuals against society and of societies against authoritarianism.

See you in a month,