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The New Alphabet


2019–2021

Giulia Bruno and Armin Linke, Court of Justice of the European Union, Interpretation booth during the “Day of Europe”, 2018 | © Giulia Bruno and Armin Linke, 2018

Giulia Bruno and Armin Linke, Court of Justice of the European Union, Interpretation booth during the “Day of Europe”, 2018 | © Giulia Bruno and Armin Linke, 2018

Filipa César, Textile/Text (research image for Das Neue Alphabet), 2018. Courtesy of the artist.

Filipa César, Textile/Text (research image for Das Neue Alphabet), 2018. Courtesy of the artist.

Is it possible to imagine an overabundance of multifarious fields of languages, knowledge production, and learning practices beyond one universal matrix? Can common reference points and collective action be enabled without monopolistic force? How can knowledge be both situated and globally relevant?

Alphabets are specific kinds of phonographic sign systems built on a finite number of discrete symbols. The letters of an alphabet can be combined, creating seemingly endless possibilities for semantic and operational codings. As a universalistic matrix, subsuming any linguistic expression into one abstract system, alphabets are also imperialist infrastructures. Are algorithms, the binary code, and the information stored in DNA the alphabets of today? And what potential ways are there for re-coding such textual infrastructures?

HKW’s long-term project The New Alphabet is intended both as a diagnosis and a provocation: vernacular, opaque, or marginalized ways of knowing are increasingly subsumed into abstract universalizing structures. What strategies of resistance against such processes of forced alphabetization exist or could be developed? And which role do artistic methods of appropriation and creolization play in this context?

The Opening Days of The New Alphabet introduce artistic and scholarly navigations through knowledge and language systems of expanding worlds. At the same time, the (Un-)Learning Place opens the New Alphabet School – a series of workshops about alternative methods for artistic, curatorial, and activist practices. The discursive music festival Find the File will focus on new ways of dealing with musical cultural heritage in an age of advancing digitization. Values and worldviews change when technologies increasingly decide what forms of existence are possible. The art and discourse program Life Forms will explore this topic. Further projects include The Whole Life: Archives and Reality, the performance and discourse program Cruising Corpoliteracy, the conference The Unforeseen and the music and discourse program Right the Right. Over the course of 2020, they will be followed up by the discursive music festivals The Disappearance of Music, and Listen!, by a discourse program on linguistic forms and styles of thought, exhibitions on the archeology of sound, on Aby Warburg’s picture atlas Mnemosyne, on the films of Heinz Emigholz and on architectures and technologies of knowledge during the Cold War.

In practical explorations, the Educational Program will delineate positions and attitudes: hacking, queering, or mapping are just some of the techniques employed in the context of evolving literacies to engage “new experts” in the bold undertaking of re-reading and transforming the present.

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Current projects

Past projects