Gilt was my first foray into the world of semiotics. I’m fascinated by the arbitrary nature of language. It seems counter intuitive and the primary reaction is to argue that language is rooted in some sensible system. It is only under thoughtful scrutiny that one realizes there is indeed no deep, true connection between language and the visceral, natural world. This work mixes 18 glyphs - some are actual symbols used in alchemy or English while others are made up. The intent is that the viewer will recognize a glyph as having meaning and then assume that all of the others have meaning.
The viewer, recognizing some of glyphs, assumes that all of the others are elements of language, when in fact many are completely meaningless collection of strokes. Gold leaf enhances the illusion that one - these symbols are important and that two - these are indeed related to language (gold leaf has a long history in the book arts). This work also asks a second question as it wrestles with duality - whether ornamentation or negative space are more appropriate. The viewer is confronted with two grids. One is pristine and the other is rich with pattern. In the end the viewer must decide which they like more, as it may be impossible to argue with is the “correct” handling.