A Language of Simple Twists (Part 1)
Sometime ago, while rushing, huddled against the rain and wind of Dublin, I happened to glance skyward, hoping for a glimpse of blue against the infinite grey. In the process, I spotted the figure of a woman in a window, high above in an ancient tower. Despite the hooded garment obscuring her face, a candle flame illuminated her downward focus on some intentional activity.
I turned then, towards the sound of rustling in the trees, and when I returned my attention towards the window, she was gone. Inquiring at the church, St. Luighseach’s it was, I was told that it would be impossible for anyone to be in that tower because it had been shuttered for many years. Indeed, the church authority continued, not even a cleric had been permitted to climb those stairs for decades.
Not one to retreat from the inexplicable, I embarked upon a new and absorbing project and determined from that day to investigate my sighting. Whoever she was, she was not, I was certain, imaginary. She and her concentrated pose had been of substance. And I knew as well, that even if I could not gain access to that tower, and even if I did and found it uninhabited, there was something here I was meant to discover.
My Ancestor / Pyromancer, as I came to know her, is a contemplative. A woman of letters, she invents symbols and word characters as a written and spoken language. Remarkably, her ciphers are transpositions of synesthetic experiences, sounds, psychic visions, animal communications. Too, she is weaver, a crosser of threads. And it is through this associated act, which anticipates her body of glyphs, that she discerns the links between thread, structure, communication and tactile and innate experience. Her methods, the knot formations and singed paper counterparts, seem like unions of opposites: vulnerability, dissolution, utility, durability. Yet, the devices of flame, cord and twig refer to the histories of fiber configurations and archaic forms of communication.
Following her lead then, I devised my own tangled language, imagining links between nets, knots, loops and braids, and the histories of communication systems. Inspired by the symbolism of Celtic knots and networks, the traditions of the Incan Quechua language and its system of Quipu knots, Shime rope structures and demarcations of the Shinto religion, and other less culturally specific fiber forms, this research substantiates that in addition to their physical uses, thread formations have the capacity to speak.
Click HERE to view the four-part installation series A Language of Simple Twists.
On the Topology of Celtic Knot Designs
Unknotting Knot Theory by Julie Rehmeyer
rock flower: transience and renewal in japanese form by Günter Nitschke
Mathematics of the Incas by J. J. O'Connor and E. F. Robertson
Ceclia Vicuna: Quipus