Press release, Jan 27, 2021

Haus der Kulturen der Welt issues the first three volumes of the book series The New Alphabet. The series devises systems of symbols for new knowledge.

Alphabets, binary code, DNA – the present explosion of knowledge is based on breaking down the world into its smallest units. Do new concepts of the world merely require new words? Or completely different systems of symbols? The New Alphabet book series provides speculative suggestions for new alphabets to capture the diversity of forms of knowledge and approaches to the world.

The 25 small, pocket book-sized volumes form a typecase of ideas, they correspond and relate to one another; they offer space for discoveries and aim to annoy; they are aesthetically challenging and academically stimulating. They combine and recombine a wide variety of representations, artistic positions and graphic elements. The topics range from Chinese pictograms to the language of the body and playlists in music.

The generously illustrated, 80- to 100-page volumes designed by Olaf Nicolai are being issued, each in a German and an English edition, by Spector Books in Leipzig.

The first volumes (available starting January 27)

Volume 1: The New Alphabet
Operating in the space between a regulatory cosmos and the chaos of life, spoken language and its written notation unfold in different directions. Proceeding from the digital as a seemingly universal notational substrate, the first volume of Das Neue Alphabet (The New Alphabet) series tracks the interplay between these two tendencies by looking at a series of examples: the relationship between binary code and Leibniz’s philosophy of Monadology, the technological and cosmological aspects of non-Western writing systems, which are antithetical to a monolithic understanding of language, and the power of the Alphabet Song to teach children the alphabet, its ordering principle cloaked in poetic form.
With essays by Ann Cotten, Yuk Hui, Ben Lerner, Bernd Scherer, illustrations by Kanako Tada and pictures by Wolfgang Tillmans
Editor: Bernd Scherer
English: 80 pages; German: 88 pages
Color illustrations, perfect bound softcover; price: €10
Further information at

Volume 2: Listen to Lists
Lists have been used for a long time to provide orientation in the world of music. The technological triumph of streaming services has turned the supply of music into a new consumer format that has come to dominate the way music is brought to market. However, the playlist does more than just format the music, it also structures the way people listen to it and sorts the data logs collected by streaming services. This revolution has spawned new organizational categories, aesthetic tendencies, and modes of behavior. Listen to Lists launches us into an exploration of this phenomenon.
With essays by Kristoffer Cornils, Maria Eriksson, Jasmine Guffond, Liz Pelly and Robert Prey
Editors: Detlef Diederichsen, Lina Brion
English: 80 pages; German: 80 pages
Color illustrations, perfect bound softcover; price: €10
Further information at

Volume 3: Counter_Readings of the Body
When the human gaze falls on a body, it constructs and deconstructs it. The setting for this is our daily life in all its different shapes and forms. The human body functions here as a semiotic system, an archive, a fiction, a projection screen, or an alphabet. The gaze that encounters it may manifest as an antagonist—be it incisive or flawed—yet it can itself disappear from view. The texts and images brought together in this volume seek to remove the body from the firing line and away from these judging and derogatory glances. They act as mirrors redirecting looks, points of view, and ideas to enable us to understand implicit and explicit processes of reading.
With essays by Olympia Bukkakis, María do Mar Castro Varela, Sabine Mohamed, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Olave Nduwanje, Jules Sturm and pictures by Julius Thissen and illustrations by Rain Demetri
Editor: Daniel Neugebauer
English: 72 pages; German: 80 pages
Color illustrations, perfect bound softcover; price: €10
Further information at

Further volumes in the series will be published monthly starting February.

More information about the series and the upcoming volumes can be found at and
Press photos:
We would be happy to send you a review copy and forward your interview requests.

The New Alphabet is edited by Detlef Diederichsen, Anselm Franke, Katrin Klingan, Daniel Neugebauer and Bernd Scherer and published by Spector Books, Leipzig. Concept and design of the series by Olaf Nicolai in collaboration with Malin Gewinner, Hannes Drißner and Markus Dreßen.
Haus der Kulturen der Welt is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media and by the Federal Foreign Office.

Press contacts:
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Jan Trautmann
Head of Press and PR
John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
D-10557 Berlin
+49 30 39787-192

Spector Books OHG
Christin Krause
Harkortstraße 10
D-04107 Leipzig
+49 (0)34126451012